Rafik Hariri Center Resident Senior Fellow Amy Hawthorne writes for the Council on Foreign Relations about the upcoming US-Egyptian strategic dialogue:

On August 2, US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Cairo for the first US-Egypt “strategic dialogue” since 2009. The high-level forum has been held on and off since the Clinton administration as part of the still-unmet goal of expanding the relationship beyond security issues into more robust trade, investment, and educational ties. During the presidency of Hosni Mubarak, the dialogue was mostly a talk shop and sop to Egypt for support on counterterrorism and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. In light of today’s diminished ties, similarly modest expectations for this Sunday’s conclave are in order, despite the State Department’s upbeat announcement that the dialogue “reaffirms the United States’ longstanding and enduring partnership with Egypt and will…further our common values, goals, and interests.”

Egypt undoubtedly views the United States’ willingness to hold the dialogue as an important diplomatic achievement and further evidence of its stamina and leverage over Washington, particularly after the White House backtracked on its partial weapons suspension. Indeed, Egypt outlasted the suspension—imposed in October 2013 in response to the mass killings of Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators, then lifted in March 2015 despite the worsening human rights situation—and several months of a White House cold shoulder without making any concessions on human rights. In contrast to the shifting and convoluted US message on Egypt in the past few years, Cairo has kept its narrative entirely consistent, if not fully convincing: Egypt is fighting terrorism caused by the Muslim Brotherhood, the source of all Islamist terrorism everywhere; is building a democracy; is a crucial partner for the West to fight terrorism; and is a relative success story when measured against failed states such as Libya, Syria, or Yemen. As one Egyptian commentator recently wrote, “We need to engage in the dialogue from a position of strength and with greater confidence in our status. The United States is now aware of Egypt’s importance.”

Read the full article here.