U.S. President Joe Biden is facing a re-examination of U.S.-Egypt relations — and his pledge to stand up against human rights violations by President Sisi’s administration — 11 days later Deadly violence In the Gaza Strip.
Washington this month relied heavily on Egyptian mediators who shuttled between Tel Aviv and Gaza to reach and maintain Ceasefire The conflict between Israel and the Palestinian faction Hamas that manages the besieged Palestinian territories.
In doing so, the Biden administration has been facing the lingering problem of its commitment to adopting a “human rights-centered” attitude towards Egypt, which has long been an interlocutor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is one of the few. One of the countries in contact with Egypt. Israel and Hamas.
The President of the United States Say Sisi will “no longer have a blank check”. He called him the “favorite dictator” of his predecessor Donald Trump, but some rights advocates said that Biden has not fulfilled this promise.
Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Arab World Democratic Organization (DAWN), a Washington think tank, said: “Again, we see that nothing has changed.”
“[Antony] Blincoln did not meet with any civil society representative during his stay in Cairo,” she said of the US Secretary of State’s Visit the capital of Egypt Supported a ceasefire last week.
“He only talked about human rights [former Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo and the Trump administration before him. “
According to a readout by the White House, in the two calls between Biden and Sisi this month-this is the first call since Biden took office in January-the US president “thanks to Egypt for its successful diplomacy.” The statement added: “President Biden emphasized the importance of constructive dialogue on human rights issues in Egypt.”
When visiting Cairo on Wednesday, Brinken also affirmed the “strategic partnership” between the United States and Egypt.
He told reporters that he had “long discussions and exchanges” on human rights issues with the Egyptian leaders who came to power in 2013. Military coup This overthrew President Mohamed Morsi. El-Sisi is recently Re-elected in 2018After his main challenger was arrested and several candidates dropped out of school due to intimidation, there was almost no objection.
Seth Binder, the propaganda officer of the Middle East Democracy Project (POMED), said that the gratitude expressed by the Biden administration “misread” the situation and sent the wrong message to Cairo.
Today, he had an important meeting with Egyptian President Sisi. I convey President Biden’s appreciation for Egypt’s key mediation efforts in support of the ceasefire and affirm the strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt. pic.twitter.com/NzW83ivpAC
— Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 26, 2021
“The Egyptians did this out of their own interests,” he told Al Jazeera. “We don’t need to bend down to congratulate them for doing something that is in their interests.
“We can still work with them to bring about a ceasefire, while putting pressure on them, and continue to focus on human rights in the relationship.”
“Usefulness” of El-Sisi
Michele Dunne, director and senior researcher of the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, said that for Sisi, the timing for mediation in Gaza is “the nectar from heaven.”
Dunn told Al Jazeera that as the Biden administration tried to focus its foreign policy on the Middle East and the rest of the world, and allowed Sisi to “show his usefulness,” this increased the relevance of the Egyptian leader.
She pointed out that the Egyptian president accepted the political interest as a Hamas mediator this time. In contrast, The Gaza War in 2014, In which he regarded Hamas as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and supported Israel’s aggression.
“I believe Sisi hopes that his role in dealing with Hamas and his role in helping humanitarian aid in Gaza will enable him to make a difference on human rights and other issues in U.S.-Egypt relations,” Dunn said.
In the latest round of contacts, Sisi has to compete not only with the established positions of the Biden administration, but also with American lawmakers, who are increasingly critical of American military aid to Egypt, which totals $1.3 billion a year.
Pressure on Biden
In recent years, Congress has often passed legislation requiring the State Council to certify that Egypt is taking measures to meet human rights standards before the funds are released.
Last year, Congress passed a bill that would use $75 million in aid to release political prisoners in Cairo and meet other human rights standards — and it does not include the State Department’s exemption.
Some people in the United States also questioned Egypt’s broader strategic significance. Considering Cairo’s influence in the Arab world, its control over the Suez Canal (the arterial trade route connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea) and its land border with the Gaza Strip, Egypt was once blocked. Think it is certain.
Nonetheless, the Biden administration has indicated that it may not carry out policy reforms, frustrating rights advocates and some lawmakers through approval. $197 million in sales Delivery of missiles and related equipment to Egypt in February.
Just a month ago, the State Department’s annual human rights report condemned a series of abuses in Egypt, including extrajudicial executions, torture, enforced disappearances, suppression of journalists and political opponents, and violence against the LGBTQ community.
The Sisi government oversaw a widespread arrest of rights advocates, journalists, and others deemed to be critics—approximately 60,000 Egyptians are still in prison.
Egyptian rights activists in the United States have recently defendant The Egyptian government detained their relatives in Egypt to force them to remain silent-Sisi rejected the accusation, but human rights organizations expressed serious vigilance.
“The current conflict has brought disturbing issues and policy dilemmas that the Biden administration does not want to deal with,” Dunn told Al Jazeera. “They will face many difficult decisions.”