Egyptians want the US administration to help resolve Egypt’s economic challenges by investing a tiny percentage of its national budget in our economy, along with increasing economic aid substantially. In addition, we want the US to help us to settle our regional disputes by imposing our government’s political viewpoint on the nations with whom we are in conflict. While Egyptians are busy adding to their demands, we have not bothered to find reasonable justifications as to how the US would benefit by acceding.
Egyptians view successful foreign relations as “friendships with one-way benefits” (in our favor, obviously). We believe that other nations should be committed to helping us either because we once supported them a few decades ago or because, by strengthening the Egyptian state, they too will benefit. While we want the US and other nations to act on our demands, the Egyptian government believes foreign nations should not interfere in our domestic affairs; even the offer of advice is viewed as an attack on our national sovereignty.
The majority of our citizens tend to adhere to our inherited thinking pattern, including people who have permanently immigrated to other nations (but refrained from truly absorbing the cultures of their adopted homelands). Large numbers of well-educated Egyptians, some of whom have been living in the US for years, endorse this political proposition. Not making room for understanding other nations’ political dynamics has trapped us into over-anticipating their willingness to support us.
While we want the US and other nations to act on our demands, the Egyptian government believes foreign nations should not interfere in our domestic affairs; even the offer of advice is viewed as an attack on our national sovereignty.
The Egyptian government and its cronies had imagined that, once Trump came to power, the growing wish list that had been stuck away in a drawer for years would be transformed into purchase orders paid for by the new American administration. They believed that President Trump would immediately instruct his officials to respond positively to our demands. This belief was demonstrated by the dispatch of various semi-governmental delegations to meet with US decision-makers; a move that, unknown to us, ended up harming our position further.
Our incomplete understanding of the political dynamics of many foreign nations, including the US, has widened and intensified our regional and international quarrels. Why should any nation work on increasing its enemies by adopting Egypt’s political agenda? Granting Egypt’s political and economic demands, which include pressuring nations with whom we are in conflict, will place other nations in impartial positions — even if our state’s demands are justified.
Meanwhile, the US and other nations often suggest alternative approaches to our problems, and we tend either to overlook their gestures or to neglect their advice, believing that our tactics will serve us better. Furthermore, most foreign countries still prefer to discuss their political disputes with Egypt behind closed doors; thus, our citizens are left in the dark, with the result that we don’t know our friends from our foes.
As our wishes and demands accumulate, the Egyptian state persistently hints to its citizens of the need for extreme caution when dealing with foreign nations. Thus, even if the US administration was to decide to comply with the entirety of Egypt’s requests, Egyptians would still question the political motives behind the Americans’ move. Within the current conspiracy theory framework, the US, and other nations, will always be viewed as the beneficiaries of their relationship with Egypt, regardless of their genuine support efforts or financial aid.
• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom.