Egypt

Is The Sun Setting On The Egyptian-American Alliance?

Since the Camp David Accords of 1979, Egypt has been the second largest recipient of US foreign aid contributions, and became one of the first Major Non NATO Allies (MNNA) of the United States in 1989.

However, events including but not limited to: the Arab Spring, increasing economic and military cooperation with Russia, and two years of withheld aid to Egypt, have caused some to question the relationship between Cairo and Washington.

Following the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, things changed dramatically in the country.

Following the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, things changed dramatically in the country.

Instability was the on rise and several incidents finally culminated on September 11th 2012, when a large group of men illegally entered and vandalized the American Embassy in Cairo.

Two days later, President Obama claimed that he did not consider Egypt an ally.

Relations between the two countries reached their lowest since 1973 when the United States suspended some of its aid to Egypt in 2013.

This was due to the removal of President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood led government in a military coup that was sanctioned by now President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the Paris Climate Conference in late 2015. Photo Credit: UNclimatechange/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The withheld aid, the biggest ticket item being the final few parts of a delivery of 20 F-16s, was eventually released in 2015. However, military deliveries to Egypt merely slowed in the two years of frosty relations, and included MIM-72C Chaparral Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs), and M-88 Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARVs), according to SIPRI data sets. Other non military aid also continued.

Despite the relative brevity of this souring of relations between Egypt and the United States, Moscow has made moves to capitalize. Several agreements between Egypt and Russia regarding development of an industrial zone in the Suez, coordination of financial sectors, and tourism were agreed upon on February 3.

In 2015, Russian and Egyptian naval units conducted their first joint training exercises, and joint exercises between the Russian VDV and their Egyptian counterparts are expected to occur later this year. It is not clear whether Egypt’s 46 shiny new KA-52s will be taking part in any of these exercises.

Despite these data points that may alarm casual US planners, a few exercises and weapon sales do not make a trend.

Despite these data points that may alarm casual US planners, a few exercises and weapon sales do not make a trend.

The 1973 Yom Kippur War marked the end of Soviet influence in the Middle East, and the United States has been solidifying its influence in the region since the Carter Administration.

Certain geopolitical realities have developed, and become ingrained in the region that make breaking the alliance between Egypt and the United States difficult.

The first is the Egypt-Israel Peace forged in the Camp David Accords in 1978.

The Suez canal as it looked in 1980, a year after the signing of the Camp David Accords. The canal is an important economic driver for Egypt and was at the center of a recently signed agreement between Egypt and Russia. Photo Credit: NeilHotson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Suez canal as it looked in 1980, a year after the signing of the Camp David Accords. The canal is an important economic driver for Egypt and was at the center of a recently signed agreement between Egypt and Russia. Photo Credit: NeilHotson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Relations between the two countries are fairly strong, to the point that Israel okayed a large scale Egyptian army deployment to the Sinai peninsula, which requires the approval of the Israeli government as per the Camp David Accords.

As Egypt and Israel are the two largest recipients of American aid, they are predisposed to cooperate with each other and the Americans.

Another strike against the doomsayers, is the existing world order is not conducive to abandoning the West and embracing the Russians as an alternative, unless forced to do so.

If the Soviet Union at the height of its power in the 1970s and 1980s could not dislodge American influence, then the best an economically strained Russia can hope for is to be the proverbial “me too” for Cairo.

This is particularly true since it is not in the interests of the United States to be at odds with one of the most strategically and economically critical nations on Earth.

Maintaining open access to the Suez Canal is Egypt’s trump card over any American planners who might wish to divert their interest from Egypt for one reason or another.

As such, it seems unlikely that the already repairing rift between Washington and Egypt will spiral out of control.

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Cover Photo Credit: Prince Roy/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Kim Badawi: The Stories Behind The Lens

With every click of his camera, Kim Badawi captures the untold stories of the human experience.

Because of a series of tweets, his role as the artful observer was reversed, thrusting him into the media spotlight and unearthing all that is to be admired about the photojournalist.

Badawi was recently traveling from Brazil to Miami to be reunited with his family and friends for the holidays. Upon entering Miami International Airport, he was detained for 10 hours without being allowed to contact his partner who was awaiting his release to board another flight.

Confused and distraught, he was forced to justify his personal contacts, emails, photos and whatsapp messages dating back to 10 years ago. He articulated the officers lacked sensitivity and reason during the investigation.

TSA officers were asked numerous times by Badawi if he needed to contact a lawyer, but they insisted that he would not be with them much longer.

After the officers discovered he was of Arab decent, they began to probe Badawi, an American citizen, about his religious practices.

“Me and my partner have suffered nightmares of being in an airport after the whole ordeal,” Badawi told Rise News. “The next day I woke up hoping that none of the things that occurred had actually happened.”

Read More: American Photojournalist Interrogated For 10 Hours In Miami Airport Because He Was Of Arab Descent

Though Badawi was unlawfully detained in the United States, he has a long history of telling narratives of those searching for freedom through his photographs.

He stumbled into photojournalism while staying with his grandparents in Egypt where coincidentally the Tahrir uprising was gaining force.

Badawi was already a well-known international photographer at the time but had little experience in journalism. His phone started to ring with calls begging for photographs on the frontlines as Egyptians revolted for a new and just government

“During the revolution, the people, especially the younger generation, really felt like anything was possible,” Badawi said.

LOOK: The Egyptian revolution through the lens of Kim Badawi

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By timing and chance, Badawi was catapulted into the world of photojournalism.

He jokes that his career has evolved through stories adventitiously unfolding once he arrives in a new country.

Recently Badawi has been developing a photography project focusing on Syrian refugees in Brazil.

The globetrotting photographer captures the sensitivity of each moment as the refugees enter and adapt to their new home. He describes the clash of two worlds as the refugees struggle with the relaxed and youthful country of Brazil that is in juxtaposition to the conservative and religious state of Syria.

Through his project, he also realized a troubling truth about the younger generation of Syria.

“They reminisce about places and people as if they were much older than they are,” Badawi said.

As Badawi tells it, for the refugees he has met, cafes, stores, and even homes that held sentimental meaning are now but distant memories of what was. Now they have found refuge in an unfamiliar country, left to pick of the pieces of their fragmented lives.

Badawi said that he understands that Syria’s past and the refugees themselves have been misrepresented in today’s media. He is hopeful that through his photography he can educate the masses through honest portrayals of what it looks and feels like to be a refugee.

Badawi may have found media attention through his unfortunate experience at the Miami airport but the real headlining story lies with how this photographer is impacting the perception of the Middle East.

Through outlets such as CNN, Le Monde, and The Wall Street Journal, Badawi has reintroduced viewers to the high intensity situations that flood the media through portraits of humans attempting to live normal lives amongst the chaos and conflict.

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