Did the Strategic Dialogue Round Differ a lot During Biden?

Rabaa Nour ElDeen Wazeer

The last Egyptian-American strategic dialogue was the first of its kind between Egypt and America after a six-year hiatus, during which a number of issues and problems of mutual interest were discussed.

The Egyptian-American strategic dialogue followed the meeting of the Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs with his United States counterpart on the sidelines of United Nations meetings, and at the initiative of the United States Secretary of State, who clearly expressed the American desire to resume dialogue with Egypt, Thus, it has been agreed that the strategic dialogue between the two countries will be restored in order to promote common understandings and approaches on issues of mutual concern stating that “We will start a new page in Egyptian – American relations”.

The dialogue addressed over the course of the two recent days and exchanged views on a number of important issues, most importantly is (Egypt’s role in the Arab region and the Middle East, deepening bilateral and regional cooperation , human rights , the situation in the Sudan , the situation in the Sudan , Egyptian efforts to transform Cairo into a regional energy center – etc.).Thus, through the following paper, we try to tackle the connotations of the strategic dialogue, the most important issues discussed, and the most important outcomes of the dialogue to come up with scenarios on possible moves in the issues under discussion.

Overview of the Strategic Dialogue between Egypt and America

The strategic dialogue between States reflects a high level of coordination between the allied States, which is not limited to a specific area of security or military but goes beyond other areas. Since the Clinton era, in 1998, the strategic dialogue between Egypt and America was organized and the last strategic dialogue was held in Cairo August 2, 2015, the dialogue has been interrupted. In the era of United States President, Barack Obama, political changes in the Egyptian landscape began in 2011. Although relations existed during the Trump era, reference was made not to a strategic dialogue between the two countries, but to visits by the Egyptian President to his American counterpart, or to telephone talks designed to deepen their cooperation. But the situation differed during the Biden era, which saw the need to restore dialogue with Egypt, even though its foreign policy was not Egypt or the Middle East in its priority agenda on the ground generally, except for the Iranian nuclear issue. The “Gaza War,” launched by Israeli forces in May 2021, is one of the most important motivations for changing the perspective on partnership with Egypt, in addition to playing an important role in reconstruction projects in the region. Libya, Iraq , Gaza, headed by the Grand Economic Alliance with Jordan and Iraq, and pursued a sober and rational foreign policy, as well as reforms at the domestic level in various sectors.

The active actions of the Egyptian administration at the local, regional and even international levels have led to a renewed dialogue between the two States. Egypt is a strong and influential ally in the region. “The Water Security File” in a telephone calls between the two Presidents, in which the United States of America intended to work to strengthen Egypt’s support efforts on the issue. ” Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” followed by calls for the Ethiopian side to return to the negotiating table, and the threat of sanctions against officials and other moves supporting the Egyptian position, preceded by a call from the President of the United States. Biden thanks his Egyptian counterpart for Egypt’s tireless efforts to stop shooting in the Gaza Strip.

A Deep Agenda Predicts that Partnerships Can Be Strengthened

This dialogue took place on November 8 and 9, 2021 in Washington. A number of issues and problems of mutual concern to the two countries were discussed during the dialogue. The depth of relations between the two countries was emphasized.

The human rights file continues to worry the United States Administration. There is no doubt that the United States Administration is putting a lot of pressure on the Egyptian Administration with regard to the human rights file. This reflects pressure on the Administration by legislators, human rights associations and activists. The United States Secretary of State stressed that the two States are working together to improve social and economic rights. His Egyptian counterpart therefore responded: “The human rights agenda is so important that we both need to make an effort to achieve as much satisfaction as possible for both peoples.

The situation in the Middle East and the Arab region not only was the human rights file, but a number of issues were addressed at the regional level. Blinken stressed the need to hand over power to civilians and to respect the course of the democratic transition in the country. This file was opened in reference to Egypt’s close relations with the Sudan and the association of their interests. The “water file” can therefore play an important role in calming the situation in the Sudan.

The dialogue was not without talking about the situation in Ethiopia, as it was the third party. The “Water File” and that the United States is making great efforts to try to contain the situation by talking to the parties to the conflict and the international and regional players on its path, can be attributed to its desire not to be involved in another crisis in the region, and because the worsening situation in Ethiopia and the Sudan means that the Horn of Africa region is in danger in its growing conflicts and will therefore be under economic and military pressure. “Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam ” stressed its support for the need for a satisfactory solution for all parties and for the preservation of Egypt’s right to its water quota.

The elections in Libya did not lose sight of Libya during the dialogue sessions. The elections scheduled to be held in December 2021 , and the support of the parties for the democratic process in Libya was emphasized. The Egyptian role in containing the situation in Libya and its leadership in the reconstruction project was also mentioned.

The Iranian nuclear file, of course at the top of the United States Administration’s talks, which is a parting way in the Middle East, since the American citizen is terribly afraid that Iran will have a ballistic missile program.

At the economic level, the United States of America has invested more than $30 billion in Egypt’s development, in addition to the projects of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for Egypt to finance projects and raise the capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises. The United States also benefits from Egypt as the largest export market for American goods in Africa, with support for more than 30,000 American jobs.

In the light of global challenges, the “covid-19 pandemic” was also discussed. The global climate crisis, during which the outcomes of the twenty-sixth United Nations Climate Conference were emphasized at its twenty-sixth Summit, supported Egyptian efforts to host the twenty-seventh session of the Conference, in terms of Egypt’s commitment to the transition to clean sources of energy by 2035. Cooperation at the scientific level was also addressed, in particular the scholarships offered by the United States of America to the Egyptian students.

Noting that some files were highly nominated for the dialogue but were not addressed, for example, the opening of American markets to Egyptian goods, but could be discussed through the planned Economic Commission on a proposal.


Does the dialogue build on Egyptian – American cooperation in the Middle East?

The Strategic Dialogue ended with a series of outputs based on the course of the files presented during its meetings between the parties, and statements by the Ministries of  Foreign Affairs of the two countries following the meeting, including:

Egypt’s active role in the Middle East conflicts, as the most important strategic partner of the United States of America in the region, has been emphasized. Egypt is on a balanced course about its internal and foreign policies.

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam file received no new status, but merely assurances of American support for the Egyptian side in obtaining its water quota following negotiations binding on the parties.

Concerning the human rights file, it was emphasized at the meeting that joint action between the Egyptian and United States sides should be launched to support and improve the situation in Egypt, especially given the positive actions of the Egyptian administration.

In the Middle East, a consensus has been reached on the need to respect the sovereignty of States and to support their democratic transition in general.

Economic cooperation. It was agreed that a joint economic commission would be established to coordinate economic cooperation between the two countries in the context of global exceptional circumstances.

In the light of its hosting of the twenty-seventh session of the United Nations Climate Summit, a joint Egypt-America panel has been established to support Egypt’s efforts to allow for a degree of negotiation and coordination to ensure better climate negotiations before the Conference.

The next round of strategic dialogue between Egypt and the United States of America was agreed to be held in Cairo in 2023.

Does dialogue matters?

Based on the foregoing, it is expected that the Strategic Dialogue will produce good results at many levels, especially since the outcomes of the Conference have resulted in the establishment of concrete and practical mechanisms for coordinating cooperation and partnership in many cases, primarily the economic one. The opening of American markets to Egyptian goods could be coordinated; the volume of American investment in Egypt will increase, especially with the reforms that Egypt is undertaking at the legislative and infrastructure levels, making it an attractive environment for investment. The United States is one of the countries most affected by climate change. It will therefore spare no effort to coordinate with the Egyptian side to support its efforts to avoid the consequences of climate change and implement its commitment to the use of renewable energy by 2035.

The turbulent conditions in the Middle East may be caused, for example, by conflicts in many of its regions; The United States, in its race with China, has begun to move towards Asia and freeze its role in the Middle East and Africa. Therefore, America needs Egypt to ensure stability in the region to ensure full – time American – Chinese competition.


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