The United States and Egypt

A Conference Report

The study of bilateral relations has fallen deeply out of favor in the academiccommunity. Political science has turned to the study of international state systemsrather than relations between individual states; anthropologists and sociologists arefar more interested in non-state actors; and historians have largely abandonedstates altogether. It is a shame, because there is much to be learned from bilateralrelationships, and some such relationships are vital—not only to the countriesinvolved, but also to a broader array of countries.One such vital relationship is that between the United States and Egypt. Forgedduring the Cold War almost entirely on the issue of Arab-Israeli peacemaking, theU.S.-Egyptian bilateral relationship has deepened and broadened over the lastquarter century. Egypt remains one of the United States’ most important Arab allies,and the bilateral relationship with Washington remains the keystone of Egypt’sforeign policy. Strong U.S.-Egyptian bilateral relations are also an important anchorfor states throughout the Middle East and for Western policy in the region. Therelationship is valuable for policymakers in both countries; doing without it isunthinkable.To explore this relationship, the CSIS Middle East Program, in cooperation with theAl-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, convened a one-dayconference on June 26, 2003, entitled, “The United States and Egypt: Building thePartnership.” The goal of the meeting was to brainstorm how that partnership mightbe strengthened.Participants agreed that much needs to be done on the diplomatic, political, military,and economic levels. Although all did not agree on a single course forward, theparticipants unanimously concurred that a stronger U.S.-Egyptian relationship is verymuch in the interests of both countries, and although it will require a great deal ofwork to achieve, the benefits are worth the effort.

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