Egypt

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Overview
With a history as one of the world’s oldest and greatest civilizations, modern Egypt continues to redefine itself as a political and cultural leader in the region. While the remnants of pharoanic culture–including the great pyramids–mostly serve tourist purposes, the state is defined by its Muslim and Arab identities, and by increasingly advanced technological developments. The result is often a paradoxical pairing of old and new, traditional and ultra-modern.
 
Egypt is a powerful regional leader, with a military funded generously by the U.S. After its own wars with Israel in the 1960s and 1970s, Egypt took on the role of broker in the several generations of power struggles and peace negotiations that have shaped regional relations.
 
Historically a staunch U.S. ally and, with Israel, one of the U.S.’s biggest aid recipients, Egypt continues to receive funding from the U.S., but appears less and less responsive to its criticisms over human rights violations and undemocratic practices.
 
Egypt continues to undergo intensive economic liberalization reforms meant to develop industry and business. However, these reform practices, coupled with rampant corruption and a heavily stratified society, have left the majority of the country’s 80 million people living in poverty, and without even a glimpse of advancement or relief.
 
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Basic Information
Lay of the Land: Egypt is largely a dry, windswept desert in the northeast corner of Africa, but also includes the Sinai Peninsula in Asia. There are four main regions: the Nile Valley and Delta, where almost 99% of the people live on 4% of the land (most living in flat-roofed, sun-baked mud houses and farming the broad regions of the delta and the narrow depressions following the 950-mile course of the Nile through Egypt); the barren Western Desert, occupying two thirds of Egypt; the Eastern Desert, rising from the Nile Valley and becoming mountains along the Red Sea; and the Sinai Peninsula, a mountainous desert with few oases.
 
Population: 81.7 Million (2008)
Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world and the second-most populous in Africa. The majority of its inhabitants are concentrated in densely populated areas around the Nile River, mostly in the capital, Cairo, or to the north in Alexandria, a city lying on the Mediterranean Sea.
 
In a few decades, Cairo has grown from a city of a few million to almost 20 million, making it the most populous city in Africa. In recent years, the population crunch (resulting in part from rural-urban migration) has spawned a new generation of modern housing developments on the outskirts of Cairo, and increasingly into the Western Desert.
 
Religions: Islam (Sunni) 90%, Christianity (Coptic Orthodox) 9%
 
Ethnic Groups: Egyptians, Bedouins, Siwis
 
Languages: Modern Standard Arabic is the “official language” of news media but never spoken. Egyptian Colloquial Arabic is what everyone speaks and is the national dialect. The Saidis in Upper Egypt have a slightly different twist on Egyptian Colloquial.

 

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History
Settlement of Egypt’s Nile Valley began as early as 7,000 B.C. Around 3,000 B.C., Phaoronic Egypt became the world’s first undisputed nation-state when the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were united. The Great Pyramids were constructed around 2,500 B.C. as monuments to Egypt’s dead kings.
 
Through thousands of years of native-rule, and thousands more of conquest and colonization, Egypt boasts the longest continuous, known history of any single, unified state. An insular, protective geography allowed Egypt to prosper as a self-governing entity during Pharoanic rule, benefiting from the rich natural resources and agriculture provided by the Nile in an otherwise barren landscape, until Greek conquest around 330 B.C.
 
Egypt remained under foreign rule for 2,400 years, conquered and controlled by Nubians, Assyrians, Persians, Arabs, Macedonians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, British and French. Under Ptoelmic, Ikshidid, Fatimid, Ayyubid, Mamluk rule, and during the Muhammad Ali period, Egypt was independently governed, but “native Egyptians” did not actually regain power until the late modern period. Islamicization and Arabization, ushered in with the Arab conquest of 642 A.D., largely shaped subsequent Egyptian history and culture.
 
Cairo was established in 960 A.D. After Mamluk and Ottoman rule, Napoleonic, British and Turkish forces vied for control of Egypt at the end of the 18th century.
 
British forces took control of Egypt in 1882 and made it a protectorate in 1914. In 1922, an Egyptian monarchy was established, the country declared independence, but remained under British influence and administrative infrastructure. In 1952, Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power in a nationalist military coup, instituted a proto-Socialist regime and propagated grand visions of pan-Arabism (which would essentially die with him in 1970). In 1954, British troops finally left Egypt. Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal two years later to build the Aswan Dam, after the U.S. and the World Bank denied his government funding. Britain (which had leased and operated the Suez Canal since mid-19th Century), France and Israel attacked in response.
 
The Six-Day War of 1967 saw Egypt (as well as Jordan and Syria) lose to Israel in a crushing defeat. The Jewish State took control of the Sinai, the Golan Heights in Syria, and the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the present-day Occupied Territories of Palestine/Israel. Egypt won back the Sinai in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 (and subsequent negotiations) under President Anwar el-Sadat’s leadership. With the Camp David accords, Sadat instituted a more accommodating approach to peace negotiations and openly courted U.S. friendship.
 
Sadat’s reign was marked by both an open-door economic policy that welcomed foreign investment and capitalist development, and an inclusive approach to an increasingly powerful religious faction that had previously been repressed under Nasser. Economic reforms focused on rolling back social safety nets and making the transition from public to private sector. Sadat was assassinated by members of this Islamic Jihad in 1981, and succeeded by President Hosni Mubarak, who remains in power to this day.
 
The Mubarak administration fought what amounted to a civil war with religious fundamentalists, which the government was mostly successful in putting down by the late 1990s. After several years of high-profile terrorist attacks, Mubarak’s police state has increased its grip on society and taken a hard-line approach to religious militarism. The Mubarak dictatorship is notorious for anti-democratic practices, including torture, internal espionage, vote-rigging, bribes, political persecution and censorship.
 
 
Islam and Secularism
 
Egypt is a secular state, but religion holds an incredibly powerful sway over the lives of everyday people. Most Islamic leaders would like to see the Constitution modified or replaced by a system of Shariah (Islamic jurisprudence). As a powerful faction of society with solid support both from the masses and among influential leaders, the conservative religious movement has gained ground in recent decades, establishing itself at the level of social infrastructure, if not yet official political presence. When Sadat rolled back Nasser’s socialist programs in the 1970s, fundamentalist groups moved in quickly to provide services like education, healthcare and other assistance for impoverished Egyptians. The debate over Islam and secularism is one that continues to define modern Egyptian history, and is played out at every level of Egyptian society.
 
At the political level, the militant Islamist movement, as all other opposition movements, has been suppressed by the Mubarak regime. In 2005 the banned Muslim Brotherhood (candidates run on independent platforms) won 20% of total available seats (in an imperfect election), forming the largest opposition bloc. The party, illegal but tolerated, is the country’s most powerful non-governmental organization. While a force in pro-democratic reform and persecuted, the party advances controversial platforms like a prohibition against women and Christians in government and an outright denial of the Holocaust. Brotherhood links to terrorism are suspected and denied.
 
Does the Muslim Brotherhood Have Ties to Terrorism? (by Mary Crane, Council on Foreign Relations)
Egypt targets Muslim Brotherhood Moderates (by Liam Stack, Christian Science Monitor)
Egypt Islamists' wait for power (by Yolande Knell, BBC News)

 

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Egypt's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Egypt
Historically, relations between the U.S. and Egypt have fluctuated according to global and regional power struggles: namely, the Cold War, petro-politics and the state of Israel.
 
Under U.S. pressure, Nasser’s socialist-leaning government tried to remain non-aligned during the Cold War, but relations with the U.S. soured when he turned to the Soviets for weapons (after being denied by the U.S.).
 
By contrast, Sadat actively aligned himself with U.S. policy, kicked out the Soviets, and managed to get Egypt to the top of the U.S. foreign-aid bill.
 
Mubarak continued Sadat’s pro-U.S. policy, making Egypt one of America’s strongest allies in the region. Perceived as a moderate regional power, Egypt often plays broker in the struggles over Israel, providing an accessible, pro-Western state for the U.S. to deal with. Egypt remains one of the biggest recipients of U.S. foreign direct aid and USAID assistance, and economic relations between the two countries have accelerated in recent years.
 
The U.S. has periodically criticized the Mubarak dictatorship for its anti-democratic stranglehold and human rights abuses. However, these minor castigations have less and less effect, especially given the U.S.’s tarnished reputation in the region under the Bush administration, and Egypt’s increasing economic prowess and strategic regional influence.
 
 
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Current U.S. Relations with Egypt

Noted Egyptian-Americans

Fayez Sarofim is a billionaire with an estimated net worth of $1.8 billion who founded the Houston-based investment firm, Fayez Sarofim & Co. Sarofim, the son of a wealthy Egyptian agriculturist, migrated to the U.S. in 1946 and earned degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Business School. Fayez ranks in the Forbes list of 500 richest people in the world and is well known for his philanthropic contributions to the Houston Ballet, the Museum of Fine Arts, and other performing arts centers.

 

Dina Habib Powell is Director of Global Corporate Engagement for Goldman Sachs. She was also Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs during the Bush Administration. Powell was born in Cairo, Egypt and was raised in Dallas, Texas from the age of four.

 
Warm bilateral relations between the two countries are massaged by massive US economic and military aid to the Arab country. The U.S. sees Egypt as a strategic ally in the region, especially given the hostility of many surrounding countries toward both the U.S. and its ally, Israel. Egypt has been instrumental in the many arduous peace processes, and will often be the one to talk a reluctant Arab nation to the table with Israel.
 
U.S.-Egypt ties: Cool or cordial? (by Karima Saifullah, Aljazeera Magazine)
Enduring Relationship Withstands Conflict ( Washington Times) See Controversy Section.
 
Extraordinary Rendition
In international law, “rendition” is known as the practice of seizing or handing over a suspect from one country to another where there is a warrant for his/her arrest. In “extraordinary rendition,” a suspect is seized and secretly transported to another country for interrogation – without a warrant, without due process, and generally, without being charged with a crime.
 
In 1995, President Clinton signed a Presidential Directive in support of rendition practices, building on a (still-classified) National Security Directed issued by the first President George Bush.

Since September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has engaged in an aggressive use of extraordinary rendition as part of its global “War on Terror” campaign.
 
While Clinton’s Directive suggested that suspects may be apprehended without the consent of host governments where they are found, George W. Bush has expanded the extraordinary rendition program in increasingly bold (and illegal) abductions that have elicited protest from governments, groups and citizens across the globe.
 
Because these interrogations blatantly violate U.S. and international laws, the Bush administration has developed a network of “black sites” or secret prisons throughout the world where suspects are interrogated, tortured and often held for extended periods without any rights, away from the scrutiny of the international community. In some cases, U.S. agents carry out the interrogations; in others, they are interrogated and tortured by foreign government agents.
 
Egypt is not only a suspected black site, but a popular one. The Mubarak government is marked by consistent and brutal human rights violations, notably torture and interrogation of suspects at the hands of police and government officials. Cooperation between the two allies has been a natural fit, with Egypt supplying a professional apparatus and invisible location for the C.I.A. to carry out these clandestine missions.
 
In fact, Egypt has a particular reputation. According to former CIA agent Robert Baer, “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear–never to see them again–you send them to Egypt.”
 
Egyptian-Americans, Americans in Egypt
142,832 Egyptian Americans live in the United States, concentrated in hot arid states and urban centers like New Jersey, New York, California, Illinois, Florida, and Texas. 27,129 Egyptians visited the U.S. in 2006, a 12.8% increase from 2005.
 
228,183 Americans visited Egypt in 2006, an increase of 16.5% from 2005. This increase is consistent with a major upward trend in visits to Egypt, up from 117,396 in 2002.
 
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Where Does the Money Flow
Egypt has strategic value as an ally in the region that supplies the oil-dependent U.S.’s economy. As such, U.S. corporations operating in the oil sector have a major stake in trade policy between the two countries. Other industries typically involved in developing economies, big agribusiness and pharmaceutical exporters, are also stakeholders in relations with Egypt.
 
Bilateral Trade
The U.S. is Egypt’s largest single trade partner ($7.7 billion or 6% of Egypt’s G.D.P. in 2007) and U.S. exports to Egypt are the fourth largest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
 
According to the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, bilateral trade is on the up. The U.S. is touting a “from aid to trade” policy shift, and pushing for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as the next step in Egypt’s aggressive economic liberalization program.
 
In 2004, the Bush administration implemented Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZs) in Egypt, allowing U.S. companies to import products from Egypt duty-free, contingent upon a percentage of source trade activity with Israel. This new business model with Israel is an historic and controversial one (See FTA in Controversy Section)
 
Among the largest import products from Egypt are natural gas and other petroleum exports (around $1 billion annually since 2005, more than triple 2004 value). The most important non-petroleum imports in 2007 were cotton (clothing), fertilizers and rugs. To a lesser extent, raw materials like cement and aluminum, as well as collectibles, are exported to the U.S.
           
With an entire nation subsisting on government-subsidized bread, wheat continues to be the biggest U.S. export (by price) to Egypt. Military, drilling and oilfield equipment follow, along with other agricultural and food products (corn, soy), civilian aircraft, chemicals and industry materials (like plastic- and steel-making materials).
 
Trade numbers on both sides have generally risen in the last several years.
 
Development and Military Aid
Along with Israel, Egypt is the biggest recipient of U.S. aid. From 1975 through 2007, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided economic assistance to Egypt totaling $28 billion. An additional $415 million is budgeted for 2008. USAID program areas focus on social and economic development at the community and grass roots levels (education, health, nutrition, infrastructure), but on a macro level are also concerned with regional stability and counterterrorism efforts.
           
The U.S. also provides about $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt each year–about 80% of Egypt’s military budget.
           
All told, the U.S. provided about $50 billion in combined economic and military aid between 1975 and 2004.
 
US, Egypt trade surges 19% in first quarter (Business Intelligence-Middle East)
U.S. Foreign Operations in Egypt (pages 483-486) (PDF)
 
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Controversies
Ambassador Scobey on Ibrahim Sentencing
U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey’s remarks regarding the Egyptian government’s sentencing of democracy advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim (“It’s a shame”) caught fire in the local press when translated into Arabic as “shameful” or “disgraceful.” The incident elicited harsh reactions, with some editors calling for the diplomat’s expulsion.
 
The U.S. State Department issued a strong statement condemning the decision and what it saw as an affront to free speech and due process.
 
Ever sensitive about its right to mistreat political prisoners and critics, the Mubarak government defended the matter as strictly internal, a “none of your business” attitude toward rapprochement from the U.S. that has become more common in recent years.
 
Ibrahim was charged with “tarnishing Egypt’s reputation” after he echoed the U.S. Congress in urging the U.S. to make new aid delivery to Egypt contingent upon a number of human rights reforms. (Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice waived the Congressional hold on $100 million, citing “national security” reasons).
 
Ibrahim, who has dual U.S. and Egyptian citizenship, was sentenced to two years in prison or fine of 10,000 EGP (about $2,000).
 
U.S. Student Arrested
 
Accusations of Espionage
In 2006 the Egyptian government ousted two NGOs operating in Egypt for suspected espionage and security threats.
Two to go (by Gihan Shahine, Al-Ahram)
 
Egyptian Drug Prices and the U.S. Pharmaceutical Lobby
Drug prices are an issue of contention among foreign biotech companies based in Egypt, which maintains price controls on medication for poor recipients. Foreign companies complain that the government doesn’t combat generic production. The American pharmaceutical lobby and the U.S. government seek stricter enforcement of Egyptian and international laws to prevent competition from generics, which cost a fraction of the price and can therefore treat and save an exponentially greater number of people.
 
In the negotiations for an FTA, groups like the pharmaceutical lobby can be a powerful force in dissuading the U.S. from entering bilateral agreements or in imposing regulations that benefit U.S. interests at the expense of Egyptian citizens.
 
Ayman Nour, opposition leader and political prisoner
Nour Case Strains US-Egypt Ties (by William Fisher Anti-War.com)
 
Biography of The Prophet by George Bush
As reported by Al Ahram (State-supported newspaper), scholars at Al-Azhar (central Islamic authority) weighed in on a 19th Century biography of the Prophet Muhammed written by a distant ancestor of President George W. Bush.
Bush book incites controversy (by Gihan Shahine, Al-Ahram)
 
Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
Negotiations for a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and Egypt have caused controversy, largely due to the contention over Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZs) and Egypt’s collaboration with Israel. The government’s economic reform plan is criticized for being too pro-U.S., at the expense of its own policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Egypt-Israel textile ties spark controversy (by Malcolm Brabant, BBC News)
 
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Human Rights
Egypt is a police state, ruled by a dictator under draconian emergency laws and a comprehensive program of repression. The country has an extremely poor human rights record, notably in areas of political oppression; freedoms of speech, expression and assembly; democratic mechanisms; government checks and balances; violence and discrimination against women, sex and gender issues; extrajudicial detention, interrogation, torture and killings.
           
Among the problematic areas noted by the U.S. State Department in its 2008 Human Rights Country Report on Egypt are: arbitrary and unlawful killings, disappearance and torture; prison and detention conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention and denial of fair public trial (many suspects are tried in closed military tribunals to circumvent existing laws) and political prisoners. There is little transparency or accountability in government operations, and corruption is rampant. With nearly all opposition banned or imprisoned, elections are far from democratic. Freedom of religion is also marginally problematic, with discrimination and persecution of religious minorities, notably the Baha’i, and an established double standard for Egypt’s Coptic minority. Also, Egypt’s treatment of refugees has come under criticism. Adding to a poor record of mistreatment of Sudanese refugees, was the 2005 police massacre in which some 27 refugees, including many children, were brutally murdered when police broke up an encampment on the UNHCR premises in Cairo. Recently, Egypt has been criticized for failing to adhere to its obligations under international refugee law with regard to refugees caught at the Egyptian-Israeli border. Although economic reforms have provided opportunities for some women, in general, women are treated as second-class citizens in Egypt.            
 
Police Brutality and Torture
Police and special forces make informants out of everyone, and have come down especially hard in recent years on religious groups and suspected terrorists – as well as any and all opposition of the regime.
 
Government apologists are usually either in government, dependent on government, or terrified of government. The pro- argument goes something like this: Egypt is a wild, lawless place, full of terrorists and crime, and needs to be governed with an iron fist.
 
On the other side of the debate, human rights advocates and the international community condemn the government’s treatment of prisoners, political and otherwise. “Informants” are interrogated, beaten and tortured, thrown in jail without a fair trial. In recent years, bloggers have sparked heated debates by posting police torture videos.
EgyptInternet video sharpens torture debate (by Cynthia Johnson, Reuters)
Egyptianbloggers expose horror of policetorture (by Steven Stanek, San Francisco Chronicle)
Egypt's Torture Video Sparks Outrage (by Amany Radwan, Time)
 
 
Female Genital Mutilation
Although the practice has long been condemned by the international community, banned by the Egyptian government since 1996 (with an exception for “emergency cases”), and renounced by the country’s most powerful Muslim and Christian leaders – it continues largely unabated in rural areas, where the tradition proves very difficult to break. Many local religious leaders who support the practice hold enormous sway over people in communities where the practice is believed necessary to ensure a female’s chastity and family honor.
Female circumcision focus of ferocious debate in Egypt (by Michael Slackman, International Herald Tribune)
 
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Debate
Should U.S. Aid be Contingent on Human Rights Improvements?
There are those in Washington who want to see some improvement in human rights conditions before sending more aid to Egypt. There was a row in 2008 when Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice overturned a Congressional block on $100 million in aid for the country, pending certain reforms. Citing “national security” reasons, the Bush Administration ignored Congress. On the other side, critics claim that the US Congress, heavily influenced by a pro-Israel lobby, withheld the aid due to a perceived failure on Egypt’s part to prevent weapons smuggling in to Gaza.
 
Pro-Aid
Proponents of continued development and military aid to Egypt maintain that such funding is necessary to keep a balance of power in the region, and for national security reasons (i.e., anti-terrorist efforts).
 
Pro-Conditional Requirements
Critics of U.S. aid policy to Egypt contend that the U.S. government supports the dictatorship’s worst human rights practices by turning a blind eye to them. Under Bush, the pro-democracy foreign policy agenda is married to an anti-terrorism agenda—but, critics claim, massive support for countries that systematically repress the development of real democracy is counterproductive and hypocritical.
 
Threat To Cut U.S. Aid Opens Rift With Egypt (by Nathan Guttman, Jewish Forward)
EGYPT: U.S. Congress Conditions Aid on Border Containment (by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Inter Press Service)
H.R. 2977: Egyptian Counterterrorism and Political Reform Act (To withhold and commute military aid, 2007-2008)
Capitol Hill qualms (by David Dumke, Al-Ahram)
 
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Egypt's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Tawfik, Mohamed

In a sign of continuity with the pre-revolutionary regime, President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt last fall appointed a new ambassador to the U.S. who is a career diplomat in the Egyptian Foreign Service going back to 1983. Mohamed M. Tawfik, who presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on September 19, 2012, served previously in the U.S. during the 1980s. Tawfik succeeds Sameh Shoukry, who had served as Egypt’s ambassador to the United States since September 24, 2008.

 

Born June 5, 1956, Tawfik earned a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering at Cairo University and a Master’s Degree in International Organizations Law at the University of Paris XI. He also has a Diploma of International Diplomacy from the Egyptian Institute of Diplomatic Studies and a Diploma of International Relations from the Institut International D’Administration Publique in Paris, France.

 

Tawfik joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February 1983, and served as an attaché in the Ministry’s International Organizations Department from 1984 to 1985. Tawfik’s first stint at the Egyptian embassy in Washington, D.C., came in 1986, when he began service as third secretary and rose to second secretary before leaving in 1990 to serve as second secretary in the cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Cairo.

 

From 1991 to 1995, Tawfik served as first secretary at the Egyptian embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe, returning to Cairo to serve as first secretary in the Ministry’s African Department from 1995 to 1997.

 

From 1997 to 2002, Tawfik served at Egypt’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, first as counselor, then as minister plenipotentiary and finally as deputy permanent representative. While in Geneva, Tawfik served as president of the Conference on Disarmament from January to February 2002, chairman of the Geneva Chapter of the Group of 77 from January to March 2002, and coordinator of the New Agenda Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament from December 2001 to March 2002.

 

Back in Cairo, Tawfik served as director of the cabinet of the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from 2002 to 2004. From 2004 to 2008, he served as ambassador to Australia and non-resident ambassador to New Zealand, Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Marshall Islands, and from 2008 to 2011 he was director general of the Ministry’s Egyptian Building Fund Authority. In Ireland when the protests began that eventually toppled President Hosni Mubarak, Tawfik returned to Cairo in time to witness the revolution, and wrote approvingly about the protesters. He was ambassador to Lebanon from 2011 to 2012.

 

A member of the Egyptian Writers Union and PEN International, Tawfik has published three novels and three volumes of short stories in Arabic, and also translated his satirical thriller, Murder in the Tower of Happiness, into English himself. Tawfik is married to Amani Amin, with whom he has two children, Mostafa and Amr.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Guest Blog from Cairo–Where the Youth Teach the Elders (by Mohamed Tawfik)

New Envoy Says Egypt Has Turned Page on Dictatorship (by Larry Luxner, Washington Diplomat)

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Egypt's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Egypt

Beecroft, Robert Stephen
ambassador-image

 

On May 8, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Robert Stephen Beecroft to be the U.S. ambassador to Egypt. He was confirmed by the Senate on June 26. This is Beecroft’s third ambassadorial posting, having previously served in Jordan and Iraq.

 

Beecroft, 56, is from San Diego, where his father was an attorney and land developer. He earned a B.A. in English and Spanish in 1982 from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Beecroft served the customary mission with his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), in Venezuela.

 

He told LDS Church News, “I distinctly remember my father taking me aside and teaching me to look for the person in need. He used to send my brothers and me out at Christmas time with money in envelopes to anonymously deposit in the mailboxes of people in our community who were in need.”

 

He then earned a law degree from UC Berkeley in 1988. After law school, Beecroft practiced for a few years with the firm of Graham & Jones in San Francisco.

 

In 1994, Beecroft joined the Foreign Service. His first posting was in the Middle East, as a consular officer in Damascus, Syria, and most of his career has been focused on that region. He moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1996 as consular and political officer, remaining there two years.

 

Beecroft returned to Washington in 1998, working first as a staff officer and operations officer in the Secretariat, then as deputy assistant secretary of state for political/military affairs. Much of his work during this period involved the campaign to remove landmines from former conflict areas. He spearheaded training programs in landmine clearning for those in affected countries.

 

In 2003, Beecroft was named special assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and the following year was special assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Beecroft remained in the job when Condoleezza Rice took over the State Department.

 

Beecroft served as ambassador to Jordan from July 17, 2008 to June 4, 2011. In one cable from October 2009, released by WikiLeaks, Beecroft bemoaned the lack of real reforms despite promises by King Abdullah II. “Jordan's politicians are looking intently to the King for direction, eagerly (and in some cases nervously) anticipating a royal ruling on the future of reform. They have received almost nothing. The King has been largely absent from the political scene as of late and sphinxlike in his increasingly rare public appearances.”

 

Beecroft was transferred to Baghdad, Iraq, on July 14, 2011, serving as deputy chief of mission. He took over the sprawling embassy there when Ambassador James Jeffrey left on June 1, 2012, and was named ambassador himself when Obama’s original choice for the job, Brett McGurk, was forced to withdraw.

 

Beecroft’s wife, Anne Tisdel Beecroft, is also a BYU graduate, with a B.A. and J.D.. The Beecrofts have four children, Blythe, Warren, Sterling and Grace.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

A Diplomatic Life (by Brittany Karford Rogers, BYU Magazine)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Egypt

Patterson, Anne
ambassador-image

 

A native of Fort Smith, Arkansas, Anne W. Patterson presented credentials to the president of Pakistan on July 31, 2007. She was confirmed by the Senate as the US Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on June 28, 2007, and she took the oath of office on July 6. Patterson graduated from Wellesley College and attended graduate school at the University of North Carolina.
 
Patterson joined the US Foreign Service in 1973 as an economic officer. She held a variety of other economic and political assignments, including in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Patterson also served as economic counselor in Saudi Arabia from 1984 to 1988 and as political counselor to the US Mission to the United Nations in Geneva from 1988 to 1991. She later served as principal deputy assistant secretary and deputy assistant secretary of inter-American affairs and as office director for Andean affairs.
 
Patterson then served as the ambassador to El Salvador from 1997 to 2000, ambassador to Colombia from 2000 to 2003, deputy inspector general of the State Department from 2003 to 2004, as deputy permanent representative and acting permanent representative at the US Mission to the United Nations from 2004 to 2005, and as the Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs until her current posting to Pakistan.
 
Anne W. Patterson's Official Biography

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Overview
With a history as one of the world’s oldest and greatest civilizations, modern Egypt continues to redefine itself as a political and cultural leader in the region. While the remnants of pharoanic culture–including the great pyramids–mostly serve tourist purposes, the state is defined by its Muslim and Arab identities, and by increasingly advanced technological developments. The result is often a paradoxical pairing of old and new, traditional and ultra-modern.
 
Egypt is a powerful regional leader, with a military funded generously by the U.S. After its own wars with Israel in the 1960s and 1970s, Egypt took on the role of broker in the several generations of power struggles and peace negotiations that have shaped regional relations.
 
Historically a staunch U.S. ally and, with Israel, one of the U.S.’s biggest aid recipients, Egypt continues to receive funding from the U.S., but appears less and less responsive to its criticisms over human rights violations and undemocratic practices.
 
Egypt continues to undergo intensive economic liberalization reforms meant to develop industry and business. However, these reform practices, coupled with rampant corruption and a heavily stratified society, have left the majority of the country’s 80 million people living in poverty, and without even a glimpse of advancement or relief.
 
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Basic Information
Lay of the Land: Egypt is largely a dry, windswept desert in the northeast corner of Africa, but also includes the Sinai Peninsula in Asia. There are four main regions: the Nile Valley and Delta, where almost 99% of the people live on 4% of the land (most living in flat-roofed, sun-baked mud houses and farming the broad regions of the delta and the narrow depressions following the 950-mile course of the Nile through Egypt); the barren Western Desert, occupying two thirds of Egypt; the Eastern Desert, rising from the Nile Valley and becoming mountains along the Red Sea; and the Sinai Peninsula, a mountainous desert with few oases.
 
Population: 81.7 Million (2008)
Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world and the second-most populous in Africa. The majority of its inhabitants are concentrated in densely populated areas around the Nile River, mostly in the capital, Cairo, or to the north in Alexandria, a city lying on the Mediterranean Sea.
 
In a few decades, Cairo has grown from a city of a few million to almost 20 million, making it the most populous city in Africa. In recent years, the population crunch (resulting in part from rural-urban migration) has spawned a new generation of modern housing developments on the outskirts of Cairo, and increasingly into the Western Desert.
 
Religions: Islam (Sunni) 90%, Christianity (Coptic Orthodox) 9%
 
Ethnic Groups: Egyptians, Bedouins, Siwis
 
Languages: Modern Standard Arabic is the “official language” of news media but never spoken. Egyptian Colloquial Arabic is what everyone speaks and is the national dialect. The Saidis in Upper Egypt have a slightly different twist on Egyptian Colloquial.

 

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History
Settlement of Egypt’s Nile Valley began as early as 7,000 B.C. Around 3,000 B.C., Phaoronic Egypt became the world’s first undisputed nation-state when the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were united. The Great Pyramids were constructed around 2,500 B.C. as monuments to Egypt’s dead kings.
 
Through thousands of years of native-rule, and thousands more of conquest and colonization, Egypt boasts the longest continuous, known history of any single, unified state. An insular, protective geography allowed Egypt to prosper as a self-governing entity during Pharoanic rule, benefiting from the rich natural resources and agriculture provided by the Nile in an otherwise barren landscape, until Greek conquest around 330 B.C.
 
Egypt remained under foreign rule for 2,400 years, conquered and controlled by Nubians, Assyrians, Persians, Arabs, Macedonians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, British and French. Under Ptoelmic, Ikshidid, Fatimid, Ayyubid, Mamluk rule, and during the Muhammad Ali period, Egypt was independently governed, but “native Egyptians” did not actually regain power until the late modern period. Islamicization and Arabization, ushered in with the Arab conquest of 642 A.D., largely shaped subsequent Egyptian history and culture.
 
Cairo was established in 960 A.D. After Mamluk and Ottoman rule, Napoleonic, British and Turkish forces vied for control of Egypt at the end of the 18th century.
 
British forces took control of Egypt in 1882 and made it a protectorate in 1914. In 1922, an Egyptian monarchy was established, the country declared independence, but remained under British influence and administrative infrastructure. In 1952, Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power in a nationalist military coup, instituted a proto-Socialist regime and propagated grand visions of pan-Arabism (which would essentially die with him in 1970). In 1954, British troops finally left Egypt. Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal two years later to build the Aswan Dam, after the U.S. and the World Bank denied his government funding. Britain (which had leased and operated the Suez Canal since mid-19th Century), France and Israel attacked in response.
 
The Six-Day War of 1967 saw Egypt (as well as Jordan and Syria) lose to Israel in a crushing defeat. The Jewish State took control of the Sinai, the Golan Heights in Syria, and the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the present-day Occupied Territories of Palestine/Israel. Egypt won back the Sinai in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 (and subsequent negotiations) under President Anwar el-Sadat’s leadership. With the Camp David accords, Sadat instituted a more accommodating approach to peace negotiations and openly courted U.S. friendship.
 
Sadat’s reign was marked by both an open-door economic policy that welcomed foreign investment and capitalist development, and an inclusive approach to an increasingly powerful religious faction that had previously been repressed under Nasser. Economic reforms focused on rolling back social safety nets and making the transition from public to private sector. Sadat was assassinated by members of this Islamic Jihad in 1981, and succeeded by President Hosni Mubarak, who remains in power to this day.
 
The Mubarak administration fought what amounted to a civil war with religious fundamentalists, which the government was mostly successful in putting down by the late 1990s. After several years of high-profile terrorist attacks, Mubarak’s police state has increased its grip on society and taken a hard-line approach to religious militarism. The Mubarak dictatorship is notorious for anti-democratic practices, including torture, internal espionage, vote-rigging, bribes, political persecution and censorship.
 
 
Islam and Secularism
 
Egypt is a secular state, but religion holds an incredibly powerful sway over the lives of everyday people. Most Islamic leaders would like to see the Constitution modified or replaced by a system of Shariah (Islamic jurisprudence). As a powerful faction of society with solid support both from the masses and among influential leaders, the conservative religious movement has gained ground in recent decades, establishing itself at the level of social infrastructure, if not yet official political presence. When Sadat rolled back Nasser’s socialist programs in the 1970s, fundamentalist groups moved in quickly to provide services like education, healthcare and other assistance for impoverished Egyptians. The debate over Islam and secularism is one that continues to define modern Egyptian history, and is played out at every level of Egyptian society.
 
At the political level, the militant Islamist movement, as all other opposition movements, has been suppressed by the Mubarak regime. In 2005 the banned Muslim Brotherhood (candidates run on independent platforms) won 20% of total available seats (in an imperfect election), forming the largest opposition bloc. The party, illegal but tolerated, is the country’s most powerful non-governmental organization. While a force in pro-democratic reform and persecuted, the party advances controversial platforms like a prohibition against women and Christians in government and an outright denial of the Holocaust. Brotherhood links to terrorism are suspected and denied.
 
Does the Muslim Brotherhood Have Ties to Terrorism? (by Mary Crane, Council on Foreign Relations)
Egypt targets Muslim Brotherhood Moderates (by Liam Stack, Christian Science Monitor)
Egypt Islamists' wait for power (by Yolande Knell, BBC News)

 

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Egypt's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Egypt
Historically, relations between the U.S. and Egypt have fluctuated according to global and regional power struggles: namely, the Cold War, petro-politics and the state of Israel.
 
Under U.S. pressure, Nasser’s socialist-leaning government tried to remain non-aligned during the Cold War, but relations with the U.S. soured when he turned to the Soviets for weapons (after being denied by the U.S.).
 
By contrast, Sadat actively aligned himself with U.S. policy, kicked out the Soviets, and managed to get Egypt to the top of the U.S. foreign-aid bill.
 
Mubarak continued Sadat’s pro-U.S. policy, making Egypt one of America’s strongest allies in the region. Perceived as a moderate regional power, Egypt often plays broker in the struggles over Israel, providing an accessible, pro-Western state for the U.S. to deal with. Egypt remains one of the biggest recipients of U.S. foreign direct aid and USAID assistance, and economic relations between the two countries have accelerated in recent years.
 
The U.S. has periodically criticized the Mubarak dictatorship for its anti-democratic stranglehold and human rights abuses. However, these minor castigations have less and less effect, especially given the U.S.’s tarnished reputation in the region under the Bush administration, and Egypt’s increasing economic prowess and strategic regional influence.
 
 
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Current U.S. Relations with Egypt

Noted Egyptian-Americans

Fayez Sarofim is a billionaire with an estimated net worth of $1.8 billion who founded the Houston-based investment firm, Fayez Sarofim & Co. Sarofim, the son of a wealthy Egyptian agriculturist, migrated to the U.S. in 1946 and earned degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Business School. Fayez ranks in the Forbes list of 500 richest people in the world and is well known for his philanthropic contributions to the Houston Ballet, the Museum of Fine Arts, and other performing arts centers.

 

Dina Habib Powell is Director of Global Corporate Engagement for Goldman Sachs. She was also Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs during the Bush Administration. Powell was born in Cairo, Egypt and was raised in Dallas, Texas from the age of four.

 
Warm bilateral relations between the two countries are massaged by massive US economic and military aid to the Arab country. The U.S. sees Egypt as a strategic ally in the region, especially given the hostility of many surrounding countries toward both the U.S. and its ally, Israel. Egypt has been instrumental in the many arduous peace processes, and will often be the one to talk a reluctant Arab nation to the table with Israel.
 
U.S.-Egypt ties: Cool or cordial? (by Karima Saifullah, Aljazeera Magazine)
Enduring Relationship Withstands Conflict ( Washington Times) See Controversy Section.
 
Extraordinary Rendition
In international law, “rendition” is known as the practice of seizing or handing over a suspect from one country to another where there is a warrant for his/her arrest. In “extraordinary rendition,” a suspect is seized and secretly transported to another country for interrogation – without a warrant, without due process, and generally, without being charged with a crime.
 
In 1995, President Clinton signed a Presidential Directive in support of rendition practices, building on a (still-classified) National Security Directed issued by the first President George Bush.

Since September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has engaged in an aggressive use of extraordinary rendition as part of its global “War on Terror” campaign.
 
While Clinton’s Directive suggested that suspects may be apprehended without the consent of host governments where they are found, George W. Bush has expanded the extraordinary rendition program in increasingly bold (and illegal) abductions that have elicited protest from governments, groups and citizens across the globe.
 
Because these interrogations blatantly violate U.S. and international laws, the Bush administration has developed a network of “black sites” or secret prisons throughout the world where suspects are interrogated, tortured and often held for extended periods without any rights, away from the scrutiny of the international community. In some cases, U.S. agents carry out the interrogations; in others, they are interrogated and tortured by foreign government agents.
 
Egypt is not only a suspected black site, but a popular one. The Mubarak government is marked by consistent and brutal human rights violations, notably torture and interrogation of suspects at the hands of police and government officials. Cooperation between the two allies has been a natural fit, with Egypt supplying a professional apparatus and invisible location for the C.I.A. to carry out these clandestine missions.
 
In fact, Egypt has a particular reputation. According to former CIA agent Robert Baer, “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear–never to see them again–you send them to Egypt.”
 
Egyptian-Americans, Americans in Egypt
142,832 Egyptian Americans live in the United States, concentrated in hot arid states and urban centers like New Jersey, New York, California, Illinois, Florida, and Texas. 27,129 Egyptians visited the U.S. in 2006, a 12.8% increase from 2005.
 
228,183 Americans visited Egypt in 2006, an increase of 16.5% from 2005. This increase is consistent with a major upward trend in visits to Egypt, up from 117,396 in 2002.
 
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Where Does the Money Flow
Egypt has strategic value as an ally in the region that supplies the oil-dependent U.S.’s economy. As such, U.S. corporations operating in the oil sector have a major stake in trade policy between the two countries. Other industries typically involved in developing economies, big agribusiness and pharmaceutical exporters, are also stakeholders in relations with Egypt.
 
Bilateral Trade
The U.S. is Egypt’s largest single trade partner ($7.7 billion or 6% of Egypt’s G.D.P. in 2007) and U.S. exports to Egypt are the fourth largest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
 
According to the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, bilateral trade is on the up. The U.S. is touting a “from aid to trade” policy shift, and pushing for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as the next step in Egypt’s aggressive economic liberalization program.
 
In 2004, the Bush administration implemented Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZs) in Egypt, allowing U.S. companies to import products from Egypt duty-free, contingent upon a percentage of source trade activity with Israel. This new business model with Israel is an historic and controversial one (See FTA in Controversy Section)
 
Among the largest import products from Egypt are natural gas and other petroleum exports (around $1 billion annually since 2005, more than triple 2004 value). The most important non-petroleum imports in 2007 were cotton (clothing), fertilizers and rugs. To a lesser extent, raw materials like cement and aluminum, as well as collectibles, are exported to the U.S.
           
With an entire nation subsisting on government-subsidized bread, wheat continues to be the biggest U.S. export (by price) to Egypt. Military, drilling and oilfield equipment follow, along with other agricultural and food products (corn, soy), civilian aircraft, chemicals and industry materials (like plastic- and steel-making materials).
 
Trade numbers on both sides have generally risen in the last several years.
 
Development and Military Aid
Along with Israel, Egypt is the biggest recipient of U.S. aid. From 1975 through 2007, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided economic assistance to Egypt totaling $28 billion. An additional $415 million is budgeted for 2008. USAID program areas focus on social and economic development at the community and grass roots levels (education, health, nutrition, infrastructure), but on a macro level are also concerned with regional stability and counterterrorism efforts.
           
The U.S. also provides about $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt each year–about 80% of Egypt’s military budget.
           
All told, the U.S. provided about $50 billion in combined economic and military aid between 1975 and 2004.
 
US, Egypt trade surges 19% in first quarter (Business Intelligence-Middle East)
U.S. Foreign Operations in Egypt (pages 483-486) (PDF)
 
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Controversies
Ambassador Scobey on Ibrahim Sentencing
U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey’s remarks regarding the Egyptian government’s sentencing of democracy advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim (“It’s a shame”) caught fire in the local press when translated into Arabic as “shameful” or “disgraceful.” The incident elicited harsh reactions, with some editors calling for the diplomat’s expulsion.
 
The U.S. State Department issued a strong statement condemning the decision and what it saw as an affront to free speech and due process.
 
Ever sensitive about its right to mistreat political prisoners and critics, the Mubarak government defended the matter as strictly internal, a “none of your business” attitude toward rapprochement from the U.S. that has become more common in recent years.
 
Ibrahim was charged with “tarnishing Egypt’s reputation” after he echoed the U.S. Congress in urging the U.S. to make new aid delivery to Egypt contingent upon a number of human rights reforms. (Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice waived the Congressional hold on $100 million, citing “national security” reasons).
 
Ibrahim, who has dual U.S. and Egyptian citizenship, was sentenced to two years in prison or fine of 10,000 EGP (about $2,000).
 
U.S. Student Arrested
 
Accusations of Espionage
In 2006 the Egyptian government ousted two NGOs operating in Egypt for suspected espionage and security threats.
Two to go (by Gihan Shahine, Al-Ahram)
 
Egyptian Drug Prices and the U.S. Pharmaceutical Lobby
Drug prices are an issue of contention among foreign biotech companies based in Egypt, which maintains price controls on medication for poor recipients. Foreign companies complain that the government doesn’t combat generic production. The American pharmaceutical lobby and the U.S. government seek stricter enforcement of Egyptian and international laws to prevent competition from generics, which cost a fraction of the price and can therefore treat and save an exponentially greater number of people.
 
In the negotiations for an FTA, groups like the pharmaceutical lobby can be a powerful force in dissuading the U.S. from entering bilateral agreements or in imposing regulations that benefit U.S. interests at the expense of Egyptian citizens.
 
Ayman Nour, opposition leader and political prisoner
Nour Case Strains US-Egypt Ties (by William Fisher Anti-War.com)
 
Biography of The Prophet by George Bush
As reported by Al Ahram (State-supported newspaper), scholars at Al-Azhar (central Islamic authority) weighed in on a 19th Century biography of the Prophet Muhammed written by a distant ancestor of President George W. Bush.
Bush book incites controversy (by Gihan Shahine, Al-Ahram)
 
Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
Negotiations for a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and Egypt have caused controversy, largely due to the contention over Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZs) and Egypt’s collaboration with Israel. The government’s economic reform plan is criticized for being too pro-U.S., at the expense of its own policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Egypt-Israel textile ties spark controversy (by Malcolm Brabant, BBC News)
 
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Human Rights
Egypt is a police state, ruled by a dictator under draconian emergency laws and a comprehensive program of repression. The country has an extremely poor human rights record, notably in areas of political oppression; freedoms of speech, expression and assembly; democratic mechanisms; government checks and balances; violence and discrimination against women, sex and gender issues; extrajudicial detention, interrogation, torture and killings.
           
Among the problematic areas noted by the U.S. State Department in its 2008 Human Rights Country Report on Egypt are: arbitrary and unlawful killings, disappearance and torture; prison and detention conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention and denial of fair public trial (many suspects are tried in closed military tribunals to circumvent existing laws) and political prisoners. There is little transparency or accountability in government operations, and corruption is rampant. With nearly all opposition banned or imprisoned, elections are far from democratic. Freedom of religion is also marginally problematic, with discrimination and persecution of religious minorities, notably the Baha’i, and an established double standard for Egypt’s Coptic minority. Also, Egypt’s treatment of refugees has come under criticism. Adding to a poor record of mistreatment of Sudanese refugees, was the 2005 police massacre in which some 27 refugees, including many children, were brutally murdered when police broke up an encampment on the UNHCR premises in Cairo. Recently, Egypt has been criticized for failing to adhere to its obligations under international refugee law with regard to refugees caught at the Egyptian-Israeli border. Although economic reforms have provided opportunities for some women, in general, women are treated as second-class citizens in Egypt.            
 
Police Brutality and Torture
Police and special forces make informants out of everyone, and have come down especially hard in recent years on religious groups and suspected terrorists – as well as any and all opposition of the regime.
 
Government apologists are usually either in government, dependent on government, or terrified of government. The pro- argument goes something like this: Egypt is a wild, lawless place, full of terrorists and crime, and needs to be governed with an iron fist.
 
On the other side of the debate, human rights advocates and the international community condemn the government’s treatment of prisoners, political and otherwise. “Informants” are interrogated, beaten and tortured, thrown in jail without a fair trial. In recent years, bloggers have sparked heated debates by posting police torture videos.
EgyptInternet video sharpens torture debate (by Cynthia Johnson, Reuters)
Egyptianbloggers expose horror of policetorture (by Steven Stanek, San Francisco Chronicle)
Egypt's Torture Video Sparks Outrage (by Amany Radwan, Time)
 
 
Female Genital Mutilation
Although the practice has long been condemned by the international community, banned by the Egyptian government since 1996 (with an exception for “emergency cases”), and renounced by the country’s most powerful Muslim and Christian leaders – it continues largely unabated in rural areas, where the tradition proves very difficult to break. Many local religious leaders who support the practice hold enormous sway over people in communities where the practice is believed necessary to ensure a female’s chastity and family honor.
Female circumcision focus of ferocious debate in Egypt (by Michael Slackman, International Herald Tribune)
 
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Debate
Should U.S. Aid be Contingent on Human Rights Improvements?
There are those in Washington who want to see some improvement in human rights conditions before sending more aid to Egypt. There was a row in 2008 when Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice overturned a Congressional block on $100 million in aid for the country, pending certain reforms. Citing “national security” reasons, the Bush Administration ignored Congress. On the other side, critics claim that the US Congress, heavily influenced by a pro-Israel lobby, withheld the aid due to a perceived failure on Egypt’s part to prevent weapons smuggling in to Gaza.
 
Pro-Aid
Proponents of continued development and military aid to Egypt maintain that such funding is necessary to keep a balance of power in the region, and for national security reasons (i.e., anti-terrorist efforts).
 
Pro-Conditional Requirements
Critics of U.S. aid policy to Egypt contend that the U.S. government supports the dictatorship’s worst human rights practices by turning a blind eye to them. Under Bush, the pro-democracy foreign policy agenda is married to an anti-terrorism agenda—but, critics claim, massive support for countries that systematically repress the development of real democracy is counterproductive and hypocritical.
 
Threat To Cut U.S. Aid Opens Rift With Egypt (by Nathan Guttman, Jewish Forward)
EGYPT: U.S. Congress Conditions Aid on Border Containment (by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Inter Press Service)
H.R. 2977: Egyptian Counterterrorism and Political Reform Act (To withhold and commute military aid, 2007-2008)
Capitol Hill qualms (by David Dumke, Al-Ahram)
 
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Egypt's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Tawfik, Mohamed

In a sign of continuity with the pre-revolutionary regime, President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt last fall appointed a new ambassador to the U.S. who is a career diplomat in the Egyptian Foreign Service going back to 1983. Mohamed M. Tawfik, who presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on September 19, 2012, served previously in the U.S. during the 1980s. Tawfik succeeds Sameh Shoukry, who had served as Egypt’s ambassador to the United States since September 24, 2008.

 

Born June 5, 1956, Tawfik earned a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering at Cairo University and a Master’s Degree in International Organizations Law at the University of Paris XI. He also has a Diploma of International Diplomacy from the Egyptian Institute of Diplomatic Studies and a Diploma of International Relations from the Institut International D’Administration Publique in Paris, France.

 

Tawfik joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February 1983, and served as an attaché in the Ministry’s International Organizations Department from 1984 to 1985. Tawfik’s first stint at the Egyptian embassy in Washington, D.C., came in 1986, when he began service as third secretary and rose to second secretary before leaving in 1990 to serve as second secretary in the cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Cairo.

 

From 1991 to 1995, Tawfik served as first secretary at the Egyptian embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe, returning to Cairo to serve as first secretary in the Ministry’s African Department from 1995 to 1997.

 

From 1997 to 2002, Tawfik served at Egypt’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, first as counselor, then as minister plenipotentiary and finally as deputy permanent representative. While in Geneva, Tawfik served as president of the Conference on Disarmament from January to February 2002, chairman of the Geneva Chapter of the Group of 77 from January to March 2002, and coordinator of the New Agenda Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament from December 2001 to March 2002.

 

Back in Cairo, Tawfik served as director of the cabinet of the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from 2002 to 2004. From 2004 to 2008, he served as ambassador to Australia and non-resident ambassador to New Zealand, Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Marshall Islands, and from 2008 to 2011 he was director general of the Ministry’s Egyptian Building Fund Authority. In Ireland when the protests began that eventually toppled President Hosni Mubarak, Tawfik returned to Cairo in time to witness the revolution, and wrote approvingly about the protesters. He was ambassador to Lebanon from 2011 to 2012.

 

A member of the Egyptian Writers Union and PEN International, Tawfik has published three novels and three volumes of short stories in Arabic, and also translated his satirical thriller, Murder in the Tower of Happiness, into English himself. Tawfik is married to Amani Amin, with whom he has two children, Mostafa and Amr.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Guest Blog from Cairo–Where the Youth Teach the Elders (by Mohamed Tawfik)

New Envoy Says Egypt Has Turned Page on Dictatorship (by Larry Luxner, Washington Diplomat)

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Egypt's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Egypt

Beecroft, Robert Stephen
ambassador-image

 

On May 8, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Robert Stephen Beecroft to be the U.S. ambassador to Egypt. He was confirmed by the Senate on June 26. This is Beecroft’s third ambassadorial posting, having previously served in Jordan and Iraq.

 

Beecroft, 56, is from San Diego, where his father was an attorney and land developer. He earned a B.A. in English and Spanish in 1982 from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Beecroft served the customary mission with his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), in Venezuela.

 

He told LDS Church News, “I distinctly remember my father taking me aside and teaching me to look for the person in need. He used to send my brothers and me out at Christmas time with money in envelopes to anonymously deposit in the mailboxes of people in our community who were in need.”

 

He then earned a law degree from UC Berkeley in 1988. After law school, Beecroft practiced for a few years with the firm of Graham & Jones in San Francisco.

 

In 1994, Beecroft joined the Foreign Service. His first posting was in the Middle East, as a consular officer in Damascus, Syria, and most of his career has been focused on that region. He moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1996 as consular and political officer, remaining there two years.

 

Beecroft returned to Washington in 1998, working first as a staff officer and operations officer in the Secretariat, then as deputy assistant secretary of state for political/military affairs. Much of his work during this period involved the campaign to remove landmines from former conflict areas. He spearheaded training programs in landmine clearning for those in affected countries.

 

In 2003, Beecroft was named special assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and the following year was special assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Beecroft remained in the job when Condoleezza Rice took over the State Department.

 

Beecroft served as ambassador to Jordan from July 17, 2008 to June 4, 2011. In one cable from October 2009, released by WikiLeaks, Beecroft bemoaned the lack of real reforms despite promises by King Abdullah II. “Jordan's politicians are looking intently to the King for direction, eagerly (and in some cases nervously) anticipating a royal ruling on the future of reform. They have received almost nothing. The King has been largely absent from the political scene as of late and sphinxlike in his increasingly rare public appearances.”

 

Beecroft was transferred to Baghdad, Iraq, on July 14, 2011, serving as deputy chief of mission. He took over the sprawling embassy there when Ambassador James Jeffrey left on June 1, 2012, and was named ambassador himself when Obama’s original choice for the job, Brett McGurk, was forced to withdraw.

 

Beecroft’s wife, Anne Tisdel Beecroft, is also a BYU graduate, with a B.A. and J.D.. The Beecrofts have four children, Blythe, Warren, Sterling and Grace.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

A Diplomatic Life (by Brittany Karford Rogers, BYU Magazine)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Egypt

Patterson, Anne
ambassador-image

 

A native of Fort Smith, Arkansas, Anne W. Patterson presented credentials to the president of Pakistan on July 31, 2007. She was confirmed by the Senate as the US Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on June 28, 2007, and she took the oath of office on July 6. Patterson graduated from Wellesley College and attended graduate school at the University of North Carolina.
 
Patterson joined the US Foreign Service in 1973 as an economic officer. She held a variety of other economic and political assignments, including in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Patterson also served as economic counselor in Saudi Arabia from 1984 to 1988 and as political counselor to the US Mission to the United Nations in Geneva from 1988 to 1991. She later served as principal deputy assistant secretary and deputy assistant secretary of inter-American affairs and as office director for Andean affairs.
 
Patterson then served as the ambassador to El Salvador from 1997 to 2000, ambassador to Colombia from 2000 to 2003, deputy inspector general of the State Department from 2003 to 2004, as deputy permanent representative and acting permanent representative at the US Mission to the United Nations from 2004 to 2005, and as the Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs until her current posting to Pakistan.
 
Anne W. Patterson's Official Biography

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