The National quotes Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Amy Hawthorne on how the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham has muted US criticism against Egypt:
“I don’t know to what extent the new regional situation will dampen a desire to make significant changes, [but] I doubt there is much wider inclination to rock the boat” in the current context, said Amy Hawthorne, a fellow at the Rafik Hariri Centre for the Middle East.
“The most important issue in the view of Washington, across the board, is Mr Sisi’s willingness to work closely with Israel in Sinai and on Gaza and his seemingly more positive stance towards Israel in general.”
The $1.3bn in military aid for Egypt will not officially run out until September 2015, though because only about half of the money has been released, at some point before then the money for pre-existing defence contracts will likely run out, placing added pressure on the State Department to make the democracy certification. “I would guess the logic of the relationship, especially in terms of keeping defence contracts going, is pulling toward making the certification at some point,” Ms Hawthorne said. But even if the parliamentary elections are held by the end of the year, there is enough remaining skepticism among some in the White House about the democratic transition and whether Mr El Sisi’s security policies are paving the way for long-term stability that the certification is not guaranteed. Elections “will be weighed against the broader environment of whether they truly bring legitimacy and the prospect of political and security stability”, said Brian Katulis, an expert on US policy in the region at the Center for American Progress, a think tank with close ties to the White House. “Regional dynamics might make some inside the administration lower the bar, but I don’t know if that’s a consensus position yet.” The recent moves signal an openness within the administration to figure out ways to reengage with the El Sisi government, Mr Katulis said, but “it’s not back to business as usual”.