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Egypt-U.S. relations at 100 years: A partnership that is more vital than ever

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The Biden administration is working to strengthen global partnerships that will help keep America safe and protect both U.S. and allies’ national security interests. 

While many other nations have raised doubts about the U.S. and voiced their need to reassess their partnerships in lieu of changing global dynamics, Egypt has reinforced its strong bonds with Washington and coordinated joint responses to new global economic and environmental challenges, as well as increasing threats in the Middle East. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry recently concluded the U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue, declaring that our 100-year partnership has never been stronger or more vital to our shared security and socio-economic interests. 

In recent months, when intense fighting broke out between Israel and Hamas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and President Biden worked together to broker a ceasefire and commit to humanitarian aid and reconstruction in Gaza. Today, Egypt plays an essential role in continuing to lock the bolts of tranquility as a prelude to launching serious peace efforts.  

With parliamentary elections scheduled in Libya on Dec. 24, Egypt played a critical role in bringing all sides together. In June, as the Berlin Summit discussions on the future of Libya broke down — threatening December’s elections — Egypt and the U.S. worked quickly to ensure a successful Paris Summit and are working together to keep the elections process on track and on time. 

In August, as the political and economic crisis in Lebanon sparked warnings of anarchy, Egypt and the U.S. worked to reach agreement with neighboring countries to allow Egypt to supply crucially needed gas to Lebanon to support and hold back hospitals, businesses and government services from the brink of collapse. 

In September, after the risks and uncertainties raised by the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Egypt’s Ministry of Defense and the U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) coordinated 21 nations in joint air, land and sea operations in the Eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea — a statement to all that Egypt, the U.S. and our allies stand prepared to protect peace and stability together.

Last month at the U.N. Climate Change Summit (COP26), Egypt stood alongside the U.S. and other nations to announce our commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Egypt’s selection to lead climate change efforts for the next year leading up to COP27 in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh is telling and stands as a clear testament to the international confidence in today’s new progressive Egypt. 

Egypt’s joint efforts internationally with the United States are matched by significant progress that President Sisi has been leading at home, aimed at protecting lives and human rights in a comprehensive, balanced fashion for all Egyptians.  

The promotion of human rights in Egypt is on a promising trajectory. Recently, we launched a five-year National Strategy for Human Rights (2021-2026) that acknowledges and identifies our own imperfections, and vows to redress as it reinforces our commitment to over 100 million Egyptians who, like Americans, have a right to life, the most sacred of rights, and to development, health care, affordable housing, social security and economic opportunity. This plan establishes annual civil, political, social, cultural and economic targets in accordance with the U.N. Human Rights Council to achieve and protect critical freedoms for all Egyptians. 

On the economic front, Egypt also has introduced broad economic reforms across our government that have allowed us to achieve a 3.6 percent growth rate during a pandemic year and to generate increased foreign investment while others in our region have struggled. International financial institutions and credit-rating agencies project a stable economic outlook for Egypt and continued growth at an average of 5.5 percent. The first quarter of the current fiscal year is already marked by an impressive 9.8 percent growth rate.  

There clearly is more work to be done, as both the U.S. and Egypt strive to address national and international priorities. As we move forward together to mark and celebrate our centennial of formal relations in 2022, it is critical that the leadership in Washington, in Congress and in the Biden administration continue to develop a full appreciation for the value of the Egypt–U.S. partnership. Anything less risks undermining the real progress we have made together, and overlooking social and economic opportunities that can benefit both nations. 

Now is the time for the U.S. and Egypt to come together and build on a common legacy developed over the last 100 years, in which both of our countries can take pride. By working together on new, protracted challenges of national security, socio-economic and geopolitical interests, we will truly build an even better legacy for the next century. 

Motaz Zahran is Egypt’s Ambassador to the United States. He formerly served as the country’s assistant foreign minister and chief of Cabinet at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo, and as ambassador to Canada.

Tags Antony Blinken Joe Biden

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