Egypt and America — A Brief History

Egypt–––home of sun-scorched sand and towering ancient pyramids. It also has a historically crucial relationship with the United States. The United States has had diplomatic relations with Egypt for almost a hundred years––relations were first established in 1922, soon after Egypt gained independence from Great Britain. The modern US-Egypt relationship can be traced back to the Cold War, in which Egypt ended its support of the Soviet Union and threw its favor to the United States. President Gamal Abdel Nasser had initially attempted to stay non-aligned, but ultimately supported the Soviets. However, things changed in 1956 when Nasser made the decision to nationalize the Suez Canal Company, a project joint-owned by Britain and France, in an effort to move the country away from its history of colonialism. Despite reassurances of compensation, British and French governments were furious. The two governments used their influence to land Israeli troops in Egypt. Under the pretext of this invasion, Britain and France landed their own troops a short while later. The Eisenhower Administration, in part worried that the Soviet Union would intervene to help Nassar before America did, pressured the United Nations into ending the conflict––allowing Nassar to stay in power. Egypt would pull support from the Soviets in the 1970s following the Arab-Israeli War. Egypt and the United States would continue to cooperate––the two countries would work closely to counteracting jihadist terrorism, Egypt would give America preferential access to the economically efficient Suez Canal, and Americans would allow Egyptian officers to train in American academies and the Egyptian government would be allowed to make use of cutting-edge military technology. Today, the United States provides Egypt with 1.3 billion dollars annually in military funding.But might soon change––Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has led the country further into autocracy and impoverishment. Organizations such as the Human Rights Watch are growing concerned of Al-Sisi’s use of force on protestors and extrajudicial killings. Critics of the United States-Egypt relationship also say that the military aid is often not used according to American military advice, and continuing to support Egypt is becoming too costly.How relations will change in the next few years is unknown––but what is certain is that it will impact the two countries––and the world stage––greatly. 


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