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All through 2004, the issue of sending Egyptian troops outside Egypt has gradually come into light and seems to have moved up to the top of the Egyptian foreign policy agenda. The debate about this subject has been neither abstract nor vague, but rather focused on three specific possible locations to which Egyptian troops might be sent: Iraq, Gaza in Palestine, and Darfur in Sudan. Even though Egyptian top officials have repeatedly denied the intention of sending troops to any country outside Egypt, the issue continues to be raised and discussed within and outside the country. It was striking that the three possible sites, to which Egyptian troops might be sent, all fall on the three principal axes traditionally defining Egyptian national security. Indeed, each one of the three sites has been in the past either a theatre of Egyptian military activity or has represented high security value in Egyptian strategic thinking. The Gaza strip for example, the Eastern Gate to Egypt, has been associated with Israeli security threats across the border and the long history of wars and confrontations between Egypt and Israel. Iraq is of no less importance for Egyptian security, since Iraq, with the rest of the Gulf countries, has represented an increasing strategic, economic and human security importance for Egypt during the last three decades. Finally Sudan, the southern neighbour of Egypt, with the River Nile passing through it, making Sudan's security and stability strongly linked to security and stability in Egypt.
Aside from its long history of wars with Israel, Egypt has sent troops abroad on different occasions where either vital Egyptian interests were at stake, or there was a window of opportunity for development and growth of these interests, or sometimes for both motives combined. However, the decision to send Egyptian troops outside the country has never been easy. Such decisions were subjected to public debate and has always led to a mix of support and rejection. Although neither Yemen nor Kuwait have common borders with Egypt, Egyptian troops were sent to Yemen in 1962 and to Iraq during Desert Storm in 1991. The decisions in both cases were based on the conclusion that the size of the threat posed to Egyptian national security and the opportunities available to be seized, required such a decision and justified it. The Egyptian public was, in both cases of intervention, divided into two trends of thought: one supported sending troops outside to protect Egyptian national security at the very end of the Red Sea and beyond in the Gulf; and the second viewed the intervention in Yemen as a harmful venture that stretched the Egyptian armed forces thin, paving the road for the defeat by Israel in 1967, and the Egyptian participation in the Desert Storm as submission to American hegemony igniting Arab-Arab conflicts from which only the United States and Israel benefited.
In the nineties, Egypt also sent troops to several hot spots around the world, namely to Bosnia in Europe, and to Somalia in Africa. In these cases, however, decisions to send troops abroad did not arise much controversy inside Egypt due to their geographical remoteness, as well as their low intensity level of conflict. Such Egyptian presence in these areas opened a window of opportunity for Egypt to make political, economic, and strategic gains. It is possible to view the Egyptian role on these various occasions of military presence outside the country in many different ways. However, closest to the Egyptian mindset is that Egypt should have a role in times of transition, big or small, in re-engineering its region and the world. It was during the 1990s, characterized by active Egyptian presence outside its borders - jointly with the United States and other Western and Arab allies in the Gulf, with the NATO in Bosnia, and under the United Nations' flag in Somalia - that many Egyptian figures reached very prominent posts as heads of international political and economic organizations. In addition to that, a large amount of Egypt's debts were cancelled and Egypt became a centre of attention regarding international aid, rewards, funding, and political support. It was also during this period that Egypt participated together with other global and regional powers, in the founding of many important regional projects and multilateral agreements in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. During the 1990s a qualitative shift in the Egyptian armed forces occurred. The armed forces reached advanced levels of command, control and communication, in addition to establishing military institutions for training in the fields of peacekeeping, learning foreign languages, and information technology.
By the end of the 1990s, however, many negative developments have accumulated leading to a considerable loss of trust on most of cooperation fronts. The Arab-Israeli peace process came to an almost complete halt. The United States and Europe had abandoned Egypt in its fight against terrorism within the country, showing serious underestimation and misreading to the then rising threat of international terrorism. Added to that, Egyptian relations with both the United States and Europe have been negatively affected by Western powers' continued adoption of double standards in dealing with the issue of nuclear non-proliferation, forcing Egypt to fight a diplomatic battle against the indefinite extension of the NPT without a just review of the situation in the Middle East. A new American administration came into office in 2001, with a different American perspective of chronic problems of the Middle East. However, the September 11 terrorist attack ensured that it would be a long time before mutual trust could be restored. Although Egypt strongly backed the United States in its war against international terrorism after the September 11 attacks, it refused to send troops to Afghanistan, neither during the war nor after it. Egypt also opposed United States' military intervention in Iraq in March 2003 and continued to oppose United States occupation of Iraq after the war and further refused to comply with United States' requests to send troops to the country even under a UN umbrella. Events like these have had a negative impact on Egyptian relations with the United States and NATO.
By the last few months of 2004, a number of variables have emerged demanding a new Egyptian stance towards the new challenges facing the Middle East. It was evident that such a stance, if it was to be effective, should be both flexible and more active than before. The first variable was represented in the huge difficulties currently facing the United States in Iraq. So far the United States has been unable to accomplish its initially planned goals in Iraq, and after 20 months of US-led war the parties involved were reaching the point of total exhaustion and appeared to be more willing to listen to others and ask for regional solutions. This also goes for the Palestinian-Israeli issue with the situation in the occupied territories once again turning into chaos not very different than the scene in Iraq. The situation in Sudan could very well have reached the same state if it had not been contained by international, African, and Arab attention.
The second new variable on the international arena is the gradual emergence of a common Arab-Islamic-Western perspective that is still in its embryo stage, confirming that terrorism is a common threat to all, and that regional disputes must be solved if we are to root out terrorism, as well as the prime importance of dealing with the issue of WMD as it could very well mean the destruction for all. The slogan work with the world, work with allies and work with the United Nation appears as lesson from the Iraqi war experience.
The third and most important variable emerging is the current crystallization of a perspective that foresees the necessity to rehabilitate and reform the Middle East in its larger geographical framework and to reintegrate it with the world. This perspective is widely urged by the peoples of the region, accepted by the governments and ruling regimes, and supported by all external powers regardless of the differences in their political orientations and views, including the United States, European Union, NATO, the G8 members and even China. The Egyptian choice here would probably be as it was before during the 1990s: to meet the challenge and share with the world in reshaping the international arena through helping reshape the region in which it lies; the Middle East.
In light of the previous introduction, which focuses on the key challenges facing Egyptian security today and the variables effecting Egyptian response to these challenges in the future, this chapter will explore the development of Egyptian threat perceptions from the 1980s till today, as well as Egypt's relations with the various international and regional actors involved. In addition to that, it will also explore Egypt's responses to a post September 11 new Middle East, and finally how Egypt will manage the current demands of reform coming from the inside as well as the outside.
Egyptian National Security Policy and Threat Perceptions
Geography as well as history has defined - to a large extent - the national security policies and threat perceptions of Egypt. Situated at the south-east corner of the Mediterranean Sea, at the crossroads of the three continents of the old world, and at the end point of the River Nile's long journey from heart of Africa, Egyptian security policy has become sensitive to the moves of external powers. Egyptian national security has been traditionally defined during the 1950s and 1960s in terms of the fear of Western hegemony and domination, expressed by different security schemes imposed on the Middle East, like the Baghdad Pact and the Eisenhower Doctrine. More over, the creation of the state of Israel with the support of the West added an additional threat dimension. Egypt and Israel have been at war several times, namely in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. Another important security dimension for Egypt has been the River Nile and its waters. This has always been expressed in terms of a firm Egyptian stance not to allow hostile power to control the headwaters of the Nile or tamper with its flow into Egypt.
In addition to these 'constants', the 1970s and 1980s witnessed the rise of the Gulf region as a new national security dimension for Egypt. The growing human and economic interdependence between Egypt and the Gulf region has made the stability of the Gulf a pressing national security interest for Egypt. This economic and human dimension of Egyptian national security has become even more evident as Egypt faced growing economic difficulties. Gulf oil states have also contributed to Egyptian security when they used the oil embargo in support of Egypt during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. Ever since the end of that war, the Gulf countries have further supported Egypt with various types of economic assistance and investment. The economic well-being of the Gulf States has a direct positive impact on the Egyptian economy. About 2 million Egyptians work in the Arab states and the majority of them work in the Gulf region. About one million Egyptians are currently working in Saudi Arabia and 200,000 in Kuwait. The total amount of bank transfers from Egyptians working abroad, to Egypt, reached 3.77 billion EGP (about US$ 1 billion) during 1999. Remittances have represented a significant share of the hard currency flows to Egypt surpassing sometimes other sources such as oil, tourism and Suez Canal revenues.
Remittances are not the only source of income transferred to Egypt as a result of its Arab connection. Egypt receives a significant amount of aid on bilateral bases from different Gulf countries. However, wars in the Gulf and the fall of oil prices have had a negative impact on Egypt's economy. During the first and second Gulf wars, Egypt suffered from a massive return of the Egyptian work force in the Gulf. This not only added to the already strained labour force in Egypt and stressed domestic services, but it also meant loss of an important source of hard currency for Egypt. According to official figures, 2 million Egyptians worked in Iraq before the Gulf War of 1991, but no more than 60,000 of them were still employed in Iraq when United States and British forces invaded the country in March 2003. Suez Canal revenues are also very sensitive to the security environment in the Gulf. About 20 percent of the world trade in oil is transported through the Persian Gulf, and a great part of it finds its way to the world market through the Suez Canal. Gulf tourism in Egypt has always been one of the most important sources of hard currency for Egypt with its share rising to almost 35 percent of the total number of tourists visiting Egypt. The war in the Gulf has no doubt negatively affected this percentage. Finally, trade with Iraq before the war of March 2003, had reached US$ 1.7 billion in 2001 and US$ 2.5 billion in 2002.
The Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 and the Iraq-Iran war two years later, threatened security and stability in the Gulf and Egyptian national interests linked to this region. Through out the 1980s, Iran was considered the sole destabilizing power of the Gulf area, and, hence, a threat to Egyptian national security. Consequently, under President Sadat, Egypt did not hesitate to stand behind Iraq in the conflict, both militarily and economically. However, as a result of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait August 2 1990, the scope of Egyptian security interests in the Gulf became much larger than simply attempting to curb Iran. Iraq, an Egyptian ally all through the 1980s, was now threatening an area critical to Egypt's economic well-being. Accordingly, Egypt did not hesitate to support Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states by both political and military means to expel Iraq from Kuwait.
The sequence of events during the last three decades has indicated that Egypt, with the contribution of other Arab countries, has succeeded in major strategic confrontations and turning points, to preserve order and stability in the Middle East. The following are five examples characterized by their far-reaching regional and international implications:
1. Expelling the Soviets from Egypt and practically from the whole Middle East (1975). From that time on, the naval balance in the Mediterranean was skewed in favour of the United States, NATO and the West.
2. Sadat's visit to Israel and the beginning of a new era of peacemaking and conflict resolution in the area (1977).
3. Stemming the Iranian revolutionary thrust and backing Iraq in the 1st Gulf War (1980-1988).
4. Protecting the Gulf from Saddam Hussein's expansionist policy and fighting, with the United States and other Western countries, in operation Desert Storm to protect order and common interests in the region. (Israel was asked to remain out of the coalition and not to participate in the war.)
5. Gulf countries have succeeded in standing against the Israeli expansionist policies and their potential negative consequences on the region's stability when they supported Egypt and Syria in the October War of 1973.
After the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Egyptian security policies and threat perceptions began to shift as a result of the change in Egypt's leadership from president Gamal Abdel-Nasser to Anwar Sadat and the emerging peace process between Israel and Egypt. Sadat's foreign policy posture and perception of Egyptian national security needs were drastically different from those of Nasser's. Sadat realized that reaching a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a precondition for Egyptian development. To achieve this goal, Sadat ventured to enhance US-Egyptian relations and to foster a peace process with Israel. He worked hard to change the Egyptian domestic, regional and international environment in a way conductive to peace and development. Although Sadat was able to make his initiative towards peace with Israel through direct negotiations without going to Jerusalem, he preferred to go there and to speak directly to the Israeli Knesset. The principle reason behind his decision was to create a new environment in the Middle East, and to challenge the Israeli claim of a country surrounded and outnumbered by enemies through an extra dose of confidence building. He even refused the suggestion of his ministry of foreign affairs to limit his visit to Tel Aviv.
Sadat showed remarkable insight in understanding the global conditions. He knew that the West would triumph in the Cold War, and he acted as such to integrate Egypt into the Western world. However, shortly after the Camp David Accord, the momentum in the Egyptian-Israeli relations started to diminish. Discussions about Palestinian autonomy failed to produce results, and the Israeli government went on a settlement-building spree. In addition, the progress of the peace process was seriously hampered during the 1980s by the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the intifada of 1987.
After Camp David, Sadat reoriented Egyptian national security in three important dimensions: armament, threat definition and redefinition of vital national interests. In the area of armament, he called the Egyptian armed forces to phase out Soviet equipment and obtain armament from Western, principally American, armament sources. This allowed the Egyptian military to reduce the size of its standing forces since Western equipments required fewer troops to deploy them. According to Sadat's national security doctrine, which is still valid today, the primary responsibility of the Egyptian Armed Forces is to defend land, air space, and territorial waters of Egypt, regardless of who the aggressor might be. As a consequence, Egyptian military thinking no longer focuses solely on Israel, it now covers all directions. Egyptians' troops are now deployed near the Libyan borders at the west and near the Sudanese borders in the south. However, the definition of vital Egyptian interests has not remained static. Such change made a revision of the force structure necessary, particularly in light of Egypt's need for air lift and sea lift capabilities.
Finally, broadening concepts of Egyptian national security have been introduced in addition to new elements of Egyptian military thinking. For example, the policy of privatisation oriented the Armed Forces to take into account the economic dimensions of defence, a notion that was absent during the Egyptian-Israeli wars. The resulting shift to defensive strategies led to a change in the volume and the priorities of the type of weapon systems to be acquired by the Egyptian armed forces. It also led to the establishment of a national service organ to meet the logistical needs of the Armed Forces to become less dependent on the civilian market. This philosophy also contributed in shaping Egypt's civilian infrastructure. The need to maintain a large reserve force and keep the standing forces at a limited size requires Egypt to have the infrastructure necessary for mobilization, including roads, railways, waterways, and communication networks. Egypt, with the help of the United States, has initiated several modernization programs mainly in the area of air force and main battle tanks. The basis of Egypt's military strategy is defensive deterrence, that is maintaining the capability to protect Egypt's national interests through capable ground, air and naval forces. In 1999, Egypt spent US$ 2.5 billion on defence, about 1 percent of the country's GDP.
Middle East in Transition - The 1990s
The Gulf War of 1991 raised great hopes and expectations for building a new Middle East. There were hopes that the war, ending with victory over Iraq, would ignite a process of regional conflict resolution, particularly on the Arab-Israeli track and put a cap on the deadly arms race of conventional and unconventional weapons in the area. Following the end of the war, a new geopolitical agenda has been set for the Middle East. The region lived through a long process of negotiations and political dialogue that have led to the implementation of a series of peace agreements between Israel and its neighbours; namely Egypt and Jordan. Mauritania became the third Arab country to have full diplomatic relations with Israel in October 1999. Israel and Syria practically crossed the most sensitive of issues between them; including settlements, security arrangement and water in their negotiations in December 1999. On the Israeli-Palestinian track, before the deterioration that followed the Camp David talks in September 2000 and the eruption of the second Intifada, the situation on the ground presented a number of achievements. 42 percent of the West Bank and 85 percent of the Gaza strip were under the control of the Palestinian Authority. A safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank was in operation. The Gaza International Airport had been inaugurated and opened for air traffic, while the Gaza Seaport was under construction. More than 200,000 Palestinians were allowed to return back to the territories under the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian National Council cancelled all articles of the Palestinian National Charter calling for the destruction of Israel, in April 22, 1996.
In the 1990s, Egyptian-Israeli relations thawed as a result of the progress made in the peace process. Egyptian-Israeli trade grew from about $10 million of non-oil products in 1991 to about $80 million in 1996. In the eighties, Egyptians used to visit Israel only in tens or in hundreds, while in 1996 about 30,000 Egyptians visited Israel and 326,000 Israelis visited Egypt, and more than half of them went beyond the Sinai Peninsula to visit the Nile Valley.
Relations With the US
As a result of the Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1979, the United States forged a close relation with Egypt. American and Egyptian military forces began training together regularly, giving United States units exposure to Middle Eastern conditions and Egyptian military exposure to advanced military assets and methods. The United States provides Egypt with weapon systems, joint training, military advice, expertise, lift, logistical support and command assistance. In return, the United States armed forces depend on Egypt for access to the Middle East and wide-range support in projecting American power into the region and beyond. In many situations, Egypt committed its military to support United States' foreign policy initiatives. Egypt sent troops to defend Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries in 1991, and to stabilize the situation in Bosnia in 1994. Egypt's military not only participated in the United States organized intervention in Somalia in 1992-1993, they also opened their ports and air bases to the operation. The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) essentially ran the entire logistical operation for the Somalia mission from Egypt. During the 1997 crisis between China and Taiwan, Egypt's cooperation with the United States allowed Washington to rush a carrier from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, freeing the carrier on station to advance to the Straits of Taiwan.
As for the liberation of Kuwait and protection of the Gulf States during the Gulf War of 1991, Egypt allied itself with Western powers, mainly the United States, the United Kingdom and France, among others. Egypt was the second largest military contingent to the defence of the Gulf countries and provided the necessary political cover for hosting United States and other coalition troops on the territories of the Gulf countries during the war. In February 1991, an Egyptian reinforcement of 30,000 troops took part in Desert Storm, advancing into western Kuwait in a corridor between United States Marines to the east and United States Army forces to the west in Iraq. When Iraq threatened Kuwait again in October 1994, Egypt's expeditious approval for the deployment of an American carrier battle group through the Suez Canal sent a critical signal to Baghdad. The United States relies on Egypt for quick transit of military assets to and from the Gulf region and they routinely conduct 500 military over-flights in the Egyptian air space each month.
Despite the formal opposition of Egypt to the US-led military intervention of March 2003 in Iraq and its calls for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, its contribution to the war efforts was quite significant. Egypt offered important logistical assistance during the war. Most important for the American operations in the Gulf was the short notice transit of the American vessels in the Suez Canal that Egypt granted, before and during the war, with all associated security and logistical arrangements. When the Turkish Parliament denied United States troops the use of Turkish bases to open a northern front against Iraq, the United States warships were, in a very short notice, able to pass to the eastern front in the Gulf through the Suez Canal. Compared to other Western and Middle Eastern allies of the United States, including NATO members, Egypt was crucial for the success of the United States military action in Iraq.
During the 1990s, military cooperation, commercial and trade ties, and close diplomatic co-ordination on regional issues, remained cornerstones of the bilateral relations between the United States and Egypt. Egypt was described, during the Clinton Administration, as the most prominent player in the Arab world and a key United States ally in the Middle East. United States military assistance to Egypt was considered part of the administration's strategy of maintaining continued availability of Persian Gulf energy resources and providing security to the Suez Canal, which serves both as an important international oil route and as critical route for United States warships transiting to the Gulf.
In August 1983, the United States and Egypt conducted the first Bright Star joint military exercise, for infantry, airborne troops, artillery, and armoured forces. Joint exercises of this kind have been held ever since. The Bright Star, held in October-November 1997, included military contingents from the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, France, Kuwait, and Italy. A total of 63,000 troops from 11 nations participated in the Bright Star exercise held in October-November 1999, and 70,000 troops from 11 nations participated in Bright Star 2001, from 7 to 31 October 2001. In Bright Star 2001, eight NATO members and two members from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were involved among the countries. In Bright Star 1997, Egypt and United Kingdom had exercised a rescue operation for a large-scale earthquake disaster in the city of Alexandria in Egypt, with losses assumed to reach 10,000 inhabitants. Experience gained was later demonstrated during the earthquake tragedy in Turkey, where Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries provided help and solidarity. Egyptian and United States' military officers stated that co-operation in Bright Star exercises facilitated US-Egyptian cooperation and military compatibility in Desert Storm, and served as precedent for future US-Egyptian co-operative ventures. An Egyptian contingent has been designated to serve with the Gulf Cooperation Council armed forces.
The American interest in a military base in Egypt followed the renewed interest in a Rapid Deployment Force, mainly designed to protect the Gulf in the eighties. In 1981, Egypt agreed to allow the United States use of Ras Banas in the Red Sea, if an Arab state was threatened, but the negotiation collapsed as a consequence of disagreements on how to manage the facility. However, based on an unconfirmed understanding, Egypt will most likely, after mutual discussions and agreement, allow the United States access to military facilities in time of crisis.
The issue of defending the Gulf region against the threat of ballistic missiles was high on the American-Egyptian agenda during the period 1997-2000. The Clinton administration had proposed to the GCC countries and Egypt to join the United States in developing an area-defence system against ballistic missiles. So far, the Gulf States and Egypt have shown little enthusiasm for such project as a consequence of technical and financial problems. The Egyptian contribution to the security of the Gulf up to the end of the 1990s and beyond, has been manifested in different approaches including deploying forces in the area, supplying defence equipments and ammunition, protecting strategic sea lines and organising joint training and exercises.
Attempts to set up a security system in the Gulf, based on Arab forces, did not prove viable over time. Foreign Ministers of 6 GCC countries, in addition to Egypt and Syria (6+2), adopted the declaration agreeing to set up an Arab force in the Gulf based on Syrian and Egyptian contingents. However, GCC countries were not ready to station Arab troops on their soil and thought that it may limit their regional security options in future. There was also the problem of different Egyptian and Syrian positions with respect to Iran and Iraq and this was expected to limit the effectiveness of these troops in case of real danger in the area. More than US$ 50 billion in United States aid has flown into Egypt since 1978, contributing to a thorough modernization of the Egyptian armed forces, as well as supporting a vast array of programs ranging from agricultural improvements to industrialization and infrastructure construction. In addition to Foreign Military Financing (FMS) purchases and excess defence articles, Egypt co-produces the United States M1A1 Abrams tanks. Egypt also possesses, through FMS purchase, 750 M1A1 tanks, 175 M109 self-propelled howitzers, 225 F-16 fighters, 36 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, 5 E-2C airborne command aircraft, and 4 Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates.
However, continuous American supply of advanced military technology to Israel is troubling to Egypt and has a negative impact on the relation between Egypt and the United States. Israel demonstrates on a daily bases its precision attack capabilities against the Palestinians and from time to time also against the Syrians. In any large scale war the prime target for Israel will be the launch facilities, missile depots and critical infrastructure elements. Israel, with its new Dolphin-class submarine fleet, could project power to larger distances and in different directions. Also, the extension of Israeli capabilities to outer space is a strong addition to Israel's power dimensions. In 1997, a joint venture Israeli-US Satellite Company (ImageSat International) was established to build a satellite constellation of eight small satellites based on the Ofec technology. The first satellite of the series Eros-1 was launched successfully December 5 2000. In March 2000, Israel and the United States signed an energy co-operation accord that gives Israeli scientists access to United States' Department of Energy laboratories. The accord increases co-operation between the two countries in 25 civilian nuclear and non-nuclear areas.
In addition to funding and technological assistance to Israel in developing the Arrow-2 anti-ballistic missile system, the Pentagon and the United States' Congress have agreed to assist Boeing Corporation establishing a US-based production line for the Arrow-2 missile, violating Category 2 of the MTCR's Equipment and Technology assets. Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Boeing have already begun US-based production of the Arrow II ballistic missile interceptor, with initial deliveries to Israel planned at the end of 2004. The US-Israeli Tactical High-Energy Laser anti-missile system (THEL) is another example of the two countries advanced development projects. Israel is also seeking United States assistance to build high-flying unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) that could find and destroy tactical ballistic missile launchers.
Moreover, pro-Israeli lobby in the United States' House of Representative and in the Congress has repeatedly tried to stop or reduce the annual US$ 1.3 billion military aid to Egypt. In July 2004, the US House of Representatives rejected an attempt by the extreme pro-Israel lobby to cut United States annual military aid to Egypt by half. This was followed by intense pressure by senior administration officials, arms contractors and Egyptian Embassy in Washington. United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, had written lawmakers urging the plan's defeat. Also, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice made telephone calls to round up votes against the proposal. Powell said, in his letter to the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Foreign Aid, that the proposal would seriously undermine American relations with an ally that can help the US in war and peace. He added that shifting the money would hurt the US's relationship with Egypt at a very sensitive moment of the region. Powell emphasized Egypt's recent effort to reach a deal between Israelis and the Palestinians, its support for the new government in Iraq and willingness to restore stability in the area by taking part in reconstruction efforts and the training of Iraqi police.Relations With the European Union
In November 1995, the Barcelona conference launched the Barcelona Process and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) between the European Union (EU) and 12 Mediterranean countries in the southern and eastern Mediterranean. The conference affirmed the indivisibility of the Mediterranean region's security in a geopolitical sense, and the necessity to integrate the Mediterranean countries economically, and to pacify them through a system of cooperative security. The EMP was designed to manage wide scope cooperation in areas of free-trade agreements, security, cultural and civil society.
Egypt, as founding member of the EMP, is a major beneficiary of the European Union's financial and technical cooperation. The portfolio of the on-going projects covers a wide range of sectors, including private sector, social and economic development, environment, agriculture and local development. The framework of cooperation with Egypt is covered by a series of bilateral protocols as well as the MEDA programs. The main priorities of the European Union's cooperation with Egypt, as set out in the Country Strategy Paper 2002-2006 adopted by the Commission in December 2001, include the implementation of the European Union-Egypt Association Agreement signed in 2001 to support the process of economic transition, assisting regional stability and sustaining socio-economic development. In January 1st 2004, the Association Agreement between the European Union and Egypt entered into force.
The Association Agreement between Egypt and the European Union has immediate tangible benefits. It creates a free-trade zone, which will be gradually implemented in stages, maintaining the protection of the consumer goods market of Egypt for a considerable time and focusing initially on reducing tariffs on raw materials and components. However, the Association Agreement is far more than just a trade agreement. It covers political relations with no topic excluded; it refers explicitly to the importance of respect for human rights; it includes issues of cultural dialogue. Indeed, the Agreement foresees possible joint action in nearly every field of political and economic life, which is of interest to both sides: Peace and human rights, energy and transport, migration and social matters, investment and research, education and environment.