Egypt To Obama: Congratulations, Now Let's Talk Business
By Daria Solovieva | November 10, 2012 8:12 AM EST
Egypt, the Middle East’s most populoU.S. nation, has been following closely the U.S. election.
The Obama administration continues to pU.S.h forward with a $1 billion aid package for Egypt, which hit a roadblock in Congress following protests in Egypt outside the U.S. embassy. Egypt remains the second largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel.
While the government said it has reached an understanding with IMF officials, the loan remains a politically divisive issue inside Egypt. Many conservatives inside the Morsi administration are critical of paying interest, which is traditionally forbidden in Islam, and wary of foreign interference in Egypt’s economy.
Egypt's new leadership "will need to deliver economically,” said Tarek Osman, the author of “Egypt on the Brink”. “All of that necessitates significant international support, and so the U.S. economic support carries extra weight.”
Eventually, Egypt’s government admitted taking too long to respond to the protests, and constructed a wall outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo to protect American diplomatic personnel. “We took our time,” President Morsi acknowledged to New York Times. “We can never condone this kind of violence, but we need to deal with the situation wisely.”
The challenge remains for the U.S. to reach out to different political factions, amid increasing controntation between Islamists and political fragmentations following the Arab Spring. “The fact that free elections have taken place in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya means that for the first time in many decades the leaders of these countries have real legitimacy in their interactions with the U.S., and other international stakeholders,” Osman noted.
The view from Cairo, though, is simple: political relations are important, but today the Egyptian government really cares about the economy.
“We already have a history between Egypt and the U.S., but we hope that the future holds better economic relations that are based on equal partnership rather than subordination, the same way they were during Mubarak days,” Gouda said. “We are working on building a positive investment atmosphere for U.S. investors.”
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