News / Middle East

Heightened US-Egypt Tensions Raise Concern

Egypt's refusal to allow several American citizens to leave the country has heightened tensions between the traditional allies and has some people wondering if it heralds a more fraught, post-revolution relationship. But others in Egypt believe it may be little more than the military leaders posturing for a domestic audience.

Several Americans took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo after being barred from leaving Egypt, raising the stakes in a confrontation concerning U.S.-backed democracy organizations and prompting questions about the future of $1.3 billion in U.S. aid.

It is an unusual diplomatic step, indicating the Americans felt they were in danger, while Egyptian media speculated that those at the embassy were trying to evade possible prosecution.

Egyptian authorities raided several foreign-backed pro-democracy groups in December, accusing them of working illegally and interfering with domestic affairs. The U.S. complained and Egypt promised to relent. But last week the local director of one such group, Sam Lahood of the International Republican Institute - the son of a U.S. Cabinet member - was among several Americans turned back at the airport.

Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, has been heavily criticized for its continued crackdown on pro-democracy activists, with thousands of its domestic critics being sent before military tribunals and jailed in harsh conditions.

But American University in Cairo political sociologist, Said Sadek, thinks the case of those at the embassy is not so dire.

"The matter is being dramatized, but I don't think there is any danger. We have not seen anything bad happening to Americans or foreigners in Egypt when they are in government custody. You had, a few months ago, some American students arrested and accused that they were a part of a demonstration and all that happened is that they left the country. There was no torture. There was no violence against them. There was nothing," said Sadek.

A White House spokesman said Monday that the United States is not aware of any danger. But it is exactly Egypt's continuation of a crackdown on domestic critics, including allegations of abuse in custody, that has put Washington in a bind.

The Obama administration, late in supporting the uprising last year, has since reached out to Egypt's new players, including the SCAF and ascendant Islamist groups, as it tries to remain relevant to the country's new political reality.  

That includes renewing America's annual $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt. Some U.S. lawmakers have already called for the amount to be slashed because of the raids.  The latest developments threaten to make matters worse.

AUC's Sadek thinks otherwise.

"Remember, the United States needs the military whom they invested in for many decades," he said. "They also have open relationships with the political powers in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, and they know that those two powers are very important in this relationship. I don't think this is going to be affected by the arrest of, detention or prevention of three Americans from leaving the country for a short period of time until the matter is cleared by the prosecutor."

Sadek argues that Egyptian officials are also keen on keeping relations intact as they struggle with the immediate problems of rebuilding the nation post-revolution.  A delegation of Egyptian officials is in the United States this week in an apparent bid to smooth things over.

The AUC professor says the move against U.S.-backed democracy groups is aimed more at a local audience.

"It can be used for domestic situation to show that Egypt is still strong and say 'no' to the United States, especially after the criticism that some Americans raised against the behavior of the SCAF, human rights organizations condemning the transitional period and the mismanagement from the military," said Sadek.

Sadek adds that the actions can be considered "just a game."

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs