The specifics remain unclear, but Mohamed Morsy’s presidency is ushering in a new and unprecedented relationship between Egypt and its longtime ally the United States.
If the alliance between the countries remains as it has in past years, it would be the closest level of cooperation between the US and a democratically elected Arab president to-date.
Both sides are still feeling out the possibilities, but in its early stages, it appears to be an active relationship.
Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns visited Cairo 6-8 July, bringing with him a message of congratulations from US President Barack Obama.
After what Burns called a “very constructive visit,” he said in a statement that Egyptians and the international community will be looking to Morsy and his cabinet to “take needed steps to advance national unity and build an inclusive government that embraces all of Egypt's faiths and respects the rights of women and secular members of society.”
Burns visit is soon to be followed by one from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will be in Cairo on 14 July.
In her most recent statements, after Morsy ordered the reassembly of the recently dissolved Parliament, Clinton has taken a cautionary tone.
She urged “intensive dialogue” between parties in power, and said democracy was about more than elections.
“It is about creating a vibrant, inclusive political dialogue, listening to civil (society), having good relations between civilian officials and military officials, where each is working to serve the interests of the citizens,” she said in a press conference in Hanoi, another stop on her trip.
But perhaps the strongest sign of real, fledgling cooperation is an invitation for Morsy to come to the US.
“President Obama extended an invitation to President Morsy to visit the United States when he attends the UN General Assembly in September,” presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali told Reuters after Morsy met with Burns in Cairo. Burns made no mention of a planned visit.
Before Morsy took office, top US foreign policy makers coming to Cairo met with Brotherhood leaders only after sitting down with the country’s military leaders, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The White House reportedly called the Presidential Elections Committee and urged them to announce the results of the election “as soon as possible,” and Washington sources say that there’s an economic aid package being prepared with Morsy’s name on it if things go smoothly.
Brotherhood leaders returned the favor, visiting Washington in April and meeting with members of the high-profile National Security Council.
Hisham Kassem, a liberal political analyst who has had regular contact with American officials in the past said officials at the US Embassy in Cairo now have more direct lines of communication with Brotherhood members and less with liberal political players like himself.
But any relationship is still in the very early stages.
“Right now, everyone is polite, they seem to be negotiating civilly,” said Samer Shehata, a professor of Arab politics at Georgetown University in Washington.
In statements US officials have been congratulatory, stressing the importance of Morsy’s democratic election as the real milestone.
Under former President Hosni Mubarak, many Egyptians felt that the United States pursued its own interests at the expense of bolstering a dictatorial regime. Many also felt betrayed by their own government’s alliance with Israel at the behest of the US government.
In his speech given to thousands of supporters in Tahrir Square before he was officially sworn in, Morsy said he would improve relations with Egypt’s neighbors and abide by existing international agreements. But under him, he was sure to point out, relationships will be based on respect for Egypt and the will of the people.
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