Year after year, the American people send around $2 billion in public aid to Egypt; U.S. government spokesmen talk warmly of the now-quarter-century-old alliance with Cairo; and the relationship is seen as a cornerstone of American policy in the Middle East. But a number of signals suggest that not all is well: the two countries' differing approach to Arab-Israeli negotiations; their approaches to such states as Libya, Sudan, and Iraq; and their differences over the EgyptAir flight that fell into the sea off New York in late 1999. To discuss the state of U.S.-Egyptian relations, the Middle East Quarterly invited Graeme Bannerman, president of Bannerman and Associates; Steven Cook, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania; Amos Hochstein of the House Committee on Appropriations, minority staff; and Nicholas Veliotes, a former U.S. ambassador to Egypt. Patrick Clawson moderated the session which was held in Washington on September 12, 2000.
Premises

Middle East Quarterly: What is the strategic basis for U.S.-Egyptian relations at present?

Nicholas Veliotes: What it has been since the early 1970s; nothing much has changed. Yes, the Soviet Union is no longer there, but American interests are still very much supported by the Egyptian-American alliance. I use that word, alliance, advisedly. Those interests include: peace between Israel and the Arab neighbors, contributions to the general stability of the area, and protection of the resources of the Persian Gulf.

Steven Cook: Historically Egypt has served a great purpose for the United States in pursuing Washington's interests, but I find your terminology curious. You call the relationship an alliance but you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in Cairo who would call it an alliance.

Veliotes: We don't call it an alliance, either. I call it an alliance, an alliance without a treaty.

Cook: Egypt represents a strategic interest for us but there have developed diverging interests between the two countries. Historically Egypt has made it easier for us to play a role in the Gulf. That was for twenty-five years; and now the Soviet Union is gone. Egypt has played the constructive role in the Arab-Israeli conflict that we would like it to play. But it has recently softened its position on Iraq, which raises the question of what is its commitment to our goals. The Egyptians are pursuing their interests as any other country would do. We're not on the same page.

Amos Hochstein: I call it a strategic partnership. If you look at the past twenty-five years, you see evolution. The connection started when the Soviet Union existed; now our relationship with Egypt is more complicated. Our interests and Egypt's are sometimes the same and sometimes not. Most of the time, we have more agreement on policy in the Middle East with Egypt than we do with France, and France is formally an ally. Nobody's with us on Iraq anymore; it's not only Egypt.

Cook: But Egypt is the linchpin to the change.

Hochstein: Clearly, it would be better for U.S. policy towards Iraq if we had Egypt with us. But we cannot blame Egypt based on that. To be consistent, you would have to look at all our relationships around the world in the same manner, and that would be big trouble. "Strategic partnership" acknowledges that Egypt will not be there automatically as it was, on some issues, in the past.

Arab-Israeli Diplomacy

MEQ: How big a role has Egypt played in the Arab-Israeli peace negotiations over the last year?

Hochstein: Ask me which month over the past year. There has been an up and a down. Every time there is a crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations, the Egyptians came in. As a result, we've had, I don't know, how many Sharm el-Sheikh summits when they saved the day. On the other hand, you can also say that they created those crises so that they could come in and be the savior, the heroes of the day.

Graeme Bannerman: Let's not over-emphasize the peace-process aspect of Egyptian-American relations; the strategic aspect of the relationship has grown to the point that it's by far the most important part.

On the peace process, the Egyptians and we are in total agreement that there needs to be a peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians that is sustainable and lasting. What I hear people complaining about is how the Egyptians have not acted as we would like them to. Sometimes that is for our own good. Remember how we wanted the Lebanese and Israelis to sign the May 17th agreement in 1983. It was a wonderful agreement for the Israelis; they got everything they wanted. But that made it unsustainable. The Egyptians can't support an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis that is unsustainable because that does them no good. What we consider their obstructionism is their saying the path the United States is following will not produce a workable agreement that will truly bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians. So, they disagree with us. 

It's not that they disagree on the goal; they are saying the path we are following will not achieve our objectives. If you see this as making sure that we get a final agreement that produces the results we all want, then they are very helpful.

Cook: That puts a little too much credence in what the Egyptians are thinking. The Egyptians are motivated by their own interests, which are to secure a peace that ensures their position as the regional leader. They're scared Israel will become the predominant regional, cultural, social, economic, and military power, and they want to ensure that any peace agreement maintains Egypt as the key U.S. ally in the region. This certainly serves Egyptian interests, but, using Graeme's terms, it is unsustainable for Israel or the Palestinians.

Veliotes: Well, Israel is today the predominant actor, with an overwhelming lead in military, economic, and cultural affairs. Look at the role of information technology [IT], where they are light years ahead of the entire Arab world, including Egypt.

Cook: Right, and look at the Egyptian reaction. They are constantly talking about their goal of catching up to the Israelis with IT. "We can do better than the Israelis," they say. Here, too, they want to be acknowledged.

MEQ: It would seem that the Arab-Israeli negotiations provide an issue on which the United States and Egypt consult; that helps bring Egypt into the limelight and magnifies Egypt's importance to the United States. That suggests that the negotiations continuing without end are in Egypt's interests.

Veliotes: Not exactly. It reminds me of U.S. policy toward the Iran-Iraq war. We could see merit in these two countries locked in combat and not being able to cause trouble for their neighbors in the Gulf. At the same time we were afraid it would spread. Similarly, the Egyptians may like the limelight of the negotiations, but they also worry about them unraveling.

Bannerman: They wish the negotiations never end but also never unravel?

Veliotes: The Egyptians are nationalists. They have a certain amount of pride. At times that grates on us. But it is better to have proud partners than to have lackeys.

Cook: What you just said supports my assertion that the Egyptians have a vain side; they simply want to be consulted, to be in the limelight. They often are not helpful, so why should the United States go to them and invite them into the process?

MEQ: Egypt was once America's key Arab interlocutor; is that still the case? Is Egypt really central and active in the peace process these days?

Hochstein: It is. Arafat and the Palestinians chose Egypt as their patron. (Israel also has a patron, and it is the United States.)

I agree with Steven that the Egyptians have a vanity, but I would call it nationalism; they want to be a player. A lot of countries want to be players.

MEQ: Is Egypt in fact a player in the diplomacy?

Hochstein: Yes. How many times has Arafat been to Egypt since Camp David —seven times?

Cook: Every time he runs into problems with the Israelis he goes to Egypt.

Hochstein: That makes it immaterial whether the United States or anybody else wants Egypt to play a major role.

Cook: Arafat runs off to Cairo to meet with his patron; then, instead of doing something constructive to smooth things over, the Egyptians bolster Arafat's position, whatever it is. I find that less than useful from an American point of view.

Hochstein: The Israelis also go to Egypt. Let's not forget that Yitzhak Mordechai ran to Egypt government to demonstrate his continued importance one day after he agreed to resign his post as minister of defense in Netanyahu's government. The Israelis don't have any other Arab country they can go to. There is nothing that gives them credibility quite so much as a meeting and a photo-op with Husni Mubarak.

Bannerman: I disagree with the whole notion of judging our relationship with Egypt through the prism of the Arab-Israeli peace process.

Egypt represents five thousand years of civilization. It is the fulcrum of the Arab world, the only country in the region that can stand on its own without referring to anybody else, as President Sadat proved. Twice since the Second World War, there has been a fundamental shift in the balance of power in the region, both times because Egypt made a decision. In the 1950s, it turned away from the West and toward the East, where it stayed for twenty years. Then, when Sadat decided to turn back to the West, the region tipped back in our favor. Egypt has a role that is uniquely Egypt's. There is no other country that can match it, which is why people come to Egypt. Egypt is not looking for a position or a role. Egypt fills a role that is its own.

Cook: I agree completely – it's not a good idea to judge the U.S.-Egypt relationship solely on the basis of Arab-Israeli diplomacy. Note, though, that the Egyptians are concerned about the erosion of their regional role and are making every effort to bolster their position. Increasingly this translates into policy differences with Washington.

Veliotes: Let's talk specifics, for example, Jerusalem. In the Camp David II summit, the Egyptians weren't consulted. The Americans didn't go to them and say, this is what we think the solution is, will you support it? Cairo was faced with an American request to deliver Arafat on the crucial emotional and religious issue. That was understandably not sufficient for them. Particularly as they interpreted our position as totally discounting the importance of Jerusalem as an emotional and religious symbol to Arabs and Muslims.

Bannerman: Jerusalem is crucial.  The first Camp David summit in 1978 almost fell apart over this issue. President Sadat, writing in a side letter, presented the Egyptian position on Jerusalem: Arab Jerusalem is an integral part of the West Bank.

Hochstein: Look at a map of Jerusalem in 1978; it was easier to make that claim then than it is today. In the first ten years after Israel occupied it, not much had yet changed on the ground since 1967. Today's map shows that Jerusalem is more of an integral part of Israel.

Bannerman: But my point is that Egypt has a firm position. The Americans asked them abruptly to change a policy they had held for twenty-two years and on which their relationship with the Israelis is based.

Military

MEQ: Egypt does not seem to face a serious foreign military threat. Why should the United States continue to fund the modernization of the Egyptian military and sell modern armaments at the high level it does at present?

Hochstein: If Egypt is not careful, and it relies solely on U. S. military and economic aid to be the basis of the relationship, there will be no relationship very soon.

We're already starting to see that in Congress; people are not as excited about paying these big bills. Members are asking, Why are we giving them $2 billion in aid? What have they done for us lately? We're giving them aid right now, but the discussion has gone from nobody talking about it, to conversations in the cloakroom, and now you can even hear it on the floor.

Bannerman: Currently the military-to-military relationship lies at the heart of American-Egyptian relations. Any American who does military planning for the Persian Gulf has to focus on Egypt. We cannot function there without the support of Egypt due to its location, the Suez Canal, air transit rights, and so on. In the Gulf war of 1991, the Egyptians provided nearly 40,000 troops—all of their modernized ground forces. In this context, the Egyptians have been 100 percent helpful, even when they disagree with our policy. From December 1997 to March 1998, they gave us complete access to facilities and access to the canal, to carry out strikes against Iraq, despite disagreeing with these actions.

Veliotes: There is a continuous strategic relationship between the United States and Egypt. For example, every time a U.S. carrier task force is formed in the Atlantic Ocean to go to the Gulf, en route it exercises with the Egyptians in the Mediterranean off the coast of Egypt. Also, we periodically engage together in the important region-wide Bright Star military exercises.

Bannerman: The largest military exercises anywhere.

MEQ: But why does the U.S. government have to provide large-scale military assistance to secure those benefits?

Bannerman: Because it's part of the overall military cooperation.

Cook: These are all valid points about Egypt's strategic utility to the United States. But what about the reverse—the United States' importance to Egypt? One reason why the Egyptian military is so cooperative is because the United States is the lifeblood of Egypt's military. Without the infusion of U.S. aid, the Egyptian military would not be able to do any of the things it currently can do. That means, of course, the Egyptians are going to be forthcoming when the United States wants to refuel planes or train or use the Suez Canal.

Hochstein: Let's say we didn't give Egypt the military aid. They can't turn to the Soviet Union anymore, and Europe is not really a substitute. The result would be a paranoid Egypt, and that would be a problem for us.

Cook: Which Egypt are you looking at? It is already paranoid. Look at the EgyptAir disaster in 1999, and the profusion of conspiracy theories about American efforts to sabotage Egypt. Egyptians believe that the U.S. government is trying to undermine Sudan. That it sabotages Egypt's regional position by throwing money at the Israelis. This is the usual discourse in the Egyptian press and among the Egyptian elite.

Veliotes: Because the Egyptian military is the institution that guarantees Egypt's stability, we also give it military assistance to make sure that we have a strong relationship with this key institution. In addition, if we have to deploy forces in the Middle East, the United States needs and wants useful Arab military partners and political cover. Aid to Egypt makes this much more likely than it otherwise would be.

MEQ: Our military-to-military relationship with the Gulf countries has deepened far beyond what it was in 1991. How has that changed the importance of the Egyptian military role in the defense of the Gulf, substantively or symbolically? Given the improvement in coordination between the U.S. military and Gulf militaries, would Egyptian troops be as politically important as in 1991?

Veliotes: The cooperation with the Gulf country militaries is just political, just window dressing. It would make no difference whatsoever.

MEQ: The Egyptian military contribution to the war effort is not just political? It would make an important military contribution the next time around? 

Veliotes: I can't assure you of that. I can tell you that without a close military relationship with the Egyptians, it will not happen.

Cook: What substantively did the Egyptians do in 1991? Other than being there?

Veliotes: Their being there was very important politically.

Cook: Politically, not substantively.

Hochstein: Steven, what did almost every other country that participated in the 1991 war do except show up? Almost none of them had a substantive role.

Cook: True. But how many of them do we have to buy off with $2 billion a year? Why give the Egyptians such benefits?

Veliotes: Because they are Egypt and important. They're not a small Gulf emirate.

Hochstein: Because their presence turned what could have been a war of the West versus the Arabs, into a war of the people on the right side of the issue against the people who were on the wrong side of the issue. Saddam Husayn would have loved if no Arab country was in the Gulf fighting.

Cook: Not so. First, ask any Arab today, and he'll more likely than not remember the war as the West versus the Arab world. Second, there were many other Arab countries on our side besides Egypt, notably Syria. I hardly need to point out to you that Syria does not get $2 billion a year from us.

MEQ: Does the close military relationship between the United States and Egypt provide unique political advantages?

Hochstein: I would put it differently. We have a very extensive military relationship with Turkey, selling lots of advanced military equipment even though the country is not under direct threat of attack.

Cook: U.S. bilateral aid to Turkey ended in 1998, so you can no longer compare Turkey with Egypt on this issue. And while I agree that politically it is useful to have Egypt on our side, it is not at all important militarily to have the Egyptians with us. We can do whatever we want to do without them.

Civil Society

MEQ: How high on the U.S. agenda with Egypt should be the issues of democracy, human rights and religious freedom?

Veliotes: They should be on the agenda but not be primary. Look at the problem of Egypt's Christians, the Copts. It has been a problem for nearly 1,400 years and is nothing new. That does not mean we shouldn't remind them of our concerns on this issue. But we have to be careful how we intervene on subjects like this.

Cook: The Coptic problem is not some stale, unchanging issue going back to the medieval period but a fresh problem due to the upsurge in Islamism in the past two decades. And why shouldn't this issue be primary?

Veliotes: It is not that important to us, it's not a primary objective. It is a secondary or even a tertiary objective. Political and economic liberalization of the country is more important by far.

Hochstein: Human rights, religious freedom, and democracy must be primary issues to raise with the Egyptians. We can't let them get away with it. At the same time, when we think we're giving a gentle nudge, they see it as a very strong intervention.

Cook: Democracy and human rights should always be primary objectives on the U.S. agenda; with the end of the cold war, we need to start talking more about these issues with the Egyptians. Why they should be different from other countries around the world mystifies me.

Veliotes: People at the forefront of the move towards civil society—many of them Copts and lawyers—want liberalization but fear destabilization. Egyptians have a fear of the possibility that mobs might rage through Cairo and Alexandria. They don't want that and they are prepared to pay a price to avoid it.

Bannerman: As Americans, we can't not promote democracy, human rights, and religious freedom. But Egypt is a very conservative, slow-changing society. We need to be cautious because we are sometimes overbearing and arrogant. We always know what's right for everybody else as well as ourselves. We have to be cautious that we don't tread upon other people's sensitivities. Egypt, as an old civilization, will move at its own pace and in its own way and will only be forced so far.

Cook: Slow evolution is one thing but standing in place is quite another. Your assumption is that there actually has been progress. I don't see that. The Free Officers' coup in 1952 suspended Egypt's political development. Unfortunately, the broad structures of that regime remain, however disguised they may be to the casual observer. The Egyptian leaders tinker with it here and there to ensure that it remains in place. I watch them changing things at the margin to ensure that they remain in power and continue to benefit from a system that they designed.

Hochstein: Steven, you talk as though nothing has changed since the 1950s.

Cook: No, I am not saying that, only that the regime remains the same. I am not saying society has stayed the same. It certainly has evolved and become more complex.

Veliotes: Our primary purpose cannot be a transformation of Egyptian society. We've always encouraged political liberalization and economic modernization. Indeed in 1984, you had the first reasonably free elections since 1948. Everyone thought that this would become increasingly the case in Egypt. Primarily under the impact of the Islamic violence, it wasn't. Now when Egypt entered a close relationship with the United States, it did not, nor was it expected to, renounce its persona as a nationalist, predominantly Muslim state. As a matter of fact, much of the value to the United States in this relationship is precisely because that is Egypt.

Attitudes toward the United States

MEQ: How does one characterize the Egyptian elite's attitude toward the United States? What impact does it have on the U.S.-Egyptian relationship?

Veliotes: They see us much as the British and French elites, or elites anywhere do. We are the world's great power, we are the richest country. Everyone envies us and some hate us. The Egyptians show admiration, are proud of their relatives who have made it here, want to visit, and are fearful of Egyptian culture being Americanized. The elite worries about the kinds of social problems they see here that they fear will be exported there. It's a mixed bag.

Hochstein: They look to us to model in some sense personal success, maybe not a national success. The Egyptian elites used to be a lot more defiant. There are fewer of these now, particularly as more people make money. People make money abroad and return to Egypt with it. There are many in the young generation who want to make money without talking to politicians. The old guard are the guys who talk the loudest, who still give interviews, and say the same old stuff about the United States.

Cook: What you call the old guard still happens to be in power. You are right that they don't have a monopoly of opinion, but they do set the tone and they do make policy. You have to listen to them and what they say, including the views of the "semi-official" press. They do not paint a flattering portrait of the United States. Osama el-Baz, a very high Egyptian official, referring to the activities of Egypt's non-governmental organizations [NGOs], recently said that "reports written by Egyptian NGOs look like they've been written in Washington" and aim to undermine Egypt, and besmirch or destroy the image of Egypt. Not a helpful outlook, in my view. 

Veliotes: Over the past few years, the IT sector in Egypt is reported to be growing at a rate of 50 percent a year, admittedly beginning from a very low base. This growth is expected to continue. That means that a lot more people are getting on the Internet. The impact of outside information sources in this formerly almost hermetically sealed information society (BBC and Radio Monte Carlo in Arabic being the major exceptions) can have a significant effect. For example, the impact of Al-Jazeera, the Qatari television station, has been significant. It's even forcing the domestic Egyptian government to loosen up domestic television a bit so someone will watch it. 

The young are no longer simply willing to say in sha' Allah [if God wills]. As Egypt opens up and becomes more modern, and hopefully prosperous, the new generation of educated Egyptians will also be more assertive. This will make a major societal difference.

U.S. Financial Aid

MEQ: Egypt seems to have had a greater economic success recently. Does that undermine the rationale for financial aid?

Hochstein: That aid is not going to last very long if the current climate in Congress prevails. By the way, this applies to Israel, too. Yes, it's going to continue for several more years. But if we get Arab-Israeli treaties, or even if we don't, either way it is going to mean trouble for the popularity of Egypt's aid package in Congress.

Veliotes: We have experience cutting Egyptian economic aid. I remember in the late 1970s when Lee Hamilton, then chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that the Carter administration had to start phasing out the very large PL 480 aid to Egypt so more food aid would be available for more needy nations. My position was, okay, let's do it, but in the context of discussions with Egyptians so they understand that the cut is non-vindictive.

If we really think in the next five years that aid will be cut significantly, we've got to do two things. The easier will be to talk to the Egyptians about what will happen and why—that it reflects broader needs, not anger at them. The second will be harder: to try to convince the Egyptians to de-link the aid to them from the U.S. aid to Israel.

Hochstein: That's right; it's a dangerous linkage. It is also true that, if not for the aid to Israel, we'd have no foreign aid bills at all, anywhere—not for Egypt or any other country in the world.

Veliotes: Absolutely! What I mean by de-link it from aid to Israel is that there will still be a very large U.S. aid program to Israel even if aid to Egypt is significantly reduced. The trick will be to get the Egyptians to consider the U.S.-Egyptian aid relationship in a bi-lateral context.

Cook: Yes, we really do need to de-link the aid from Israel. The aid relationship between the U.S. and Egypt needs to be exclusively between the U.S. and Egypt. Nowadays, the Egyptians can say, "We want a fixed percentage of whatever the Israelis get—they get it bumped up, we want it." That is unhealthy.

Bannerman: There is already an agreement to reduce economic aid. It's in place. It's being reduced by $40 million a year. This makes it possible for everybody to plan and not be jolted. We need to do a better job, as Nick suggested, of consulting with the Egyptians. As economic aid is reduced, how do we best help the Egyptians make the transition to more of a trade relationship and less of an aid relationship? This is going to be painful and slow, but it is occurring.

Hochstein: We need to slow down the talk about cutting Egypt's aid drastically. Our development program there is great, helping some of the poorest people in Egypt. 

Veliotes: We've put schools throughout the delta. Every kid can walk to school.

Hochstein: We're a very prosperous country. We can afford economic aid to Egypt. I mean we keep on saying what does Egypt do to deserve some of this aid. Egypt does come through on a lot of the issues that we discussed today.

Few countries in the world have a better understanding of how Washington works than does Egypt. I can't think of any that have a better embassy, have better representatives, have a better understanding of how to deal with Capitol Hill—99.9 percent of Americans have no idea of how to deal with Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill doesn't know how to deal with Capital Hill sometimes.

MEQ: Is that enough?

Hochstein: No, good staffing only gets you so far. Egypt lacks an advocate in Washington except for ones that they hire or other friends of Egypt that are Arabists or other Middle Eastern types. Only if the business community cares about Egypt does this change. For example, the pharmaceutical industry is dying to get into Egypt and within the first three years invest over $2 billion in research and development; but the Egyptians have been fighting them off by refusing to pass the needed intellectual property laws. This is not just a great investment for Egypt but a way for it to find a very powerful friend in the United States. A deeper relationship between Egypt and the United States depends now on the former reforming its economy through legislation, moving towards the World Trade Organization [WTO], reforming to allow U.S. investment there.

Cook: That points to a larger problem: Egypt has recently slipped backwards economically. It took two steps forward and then two steps back. There were reports in the late spring and early summer that Standard and Poor's was going to reduce Egypt's credit rating.

There is tremendous economic progress in pockets. You find wealthy people, supermarkets, the development of a nascent middle class, but still the vast majority of people are suffering and can't make money. One of the problems is the paucity of foreign investment. In principle, Egyptian officials recognize that foreign direct investments are the key, but they haven't done anything to fix all the loopholes in the investment laws. For instance, they are still committed to the Egyptian government controlling 60 percent of the cement sector. This is just one example of many bad habits that come to rear their ugly heads, and it has a negative effect on economic growth. There are many who have prospered in the last ten years, but who are now getting a little skittish. The government hasn't done what it should have done to ensure continued economic growth. I see problems ahead.

Hochstein:  A lot of Egyptians made a lot of money outside of Egypt, and they're investing in their own country and their own economy. But if they don't change the rules for foreign investment, it ain't going to last. It's just going to be a blip, and when there is a little bit of a recession somewhere else, they're going to dip right back down. Look at what's going on right now. Jordan is negotiating with the United States for a fair trade agreement. It was almost a deal. Jordan was willing to make many and deep changes in their laws. It was impressive. The Egyptians heard about what's going on with Jordan and immediately started floating letters. They want a free trade agreement with the United States. It is a great idea but it will not happen unless they get serious about making changes.

Conclusion

MEQ: Does anyone foresee a substantial change in the U.S.-Egypt relationship in the next decade?

Veliotes: I do not. And anything beyond that is strictly speculation. Even the status quo isn't just going to happen. Both sides have to work at it. Sometimes I wonder if they are doing even that.

Hochstein: I do see such a change. In fact, it's in the process of changing now. Graeme spoke about the military relationship as the cornerstone of the relationship, and that's still true. But note how often Mubarak comes to Washington now. The relationship is maturing. There is a much friendlier discourse, involving much more trust. A high percentage of Egyptians don't remember what it was like before their country had a peace treaty with Israel; they are the ones starting to assume power and come to Washington. They are much more at ease with the United States, regardless of what the Egyptian press might write about us. A more natural relationship between the United States and Egypt is building that is independent of the relationship with Israel, or the Israel factor.

Bannerman: The relationship is much broader now than twenty-two years ago at the time of the Camp David summit. It will continue to evolve but each side must continue to work at it, not take it for granted. The United States is much more likely to take the relationship for granted and to make mistakes. It will not always be a smooth ride because Egypt is an important and independent partner. Therefore, its leaders will stand up to us and disagree with us—as some other states do not because they can't afford to do so. It will be a frank, honest relationship with the normal bumps in the road. Is it likely to get stronger? Yes, the relationship is likely to grow stronger.

Cook: I don't think a major change will happen for a long time. Rather, we'll continue with the cynical Egypt-U.S. relationship for as long as the stability and the security of Israel comes first. In the future, the relationship needs to evolve more fully and be put on another plane. We need to talk to the Egyptians about the things that we discuss with other countries—democratization, human rights, freedom of religion, constitutional reforms. But the trouble is, we are not addressing problems that are developing in Egypt, ones that could come back to bite us.