- Karim ElkadyKarim ElkadyCenter for Strategic Studies, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
Since the 1830s, Egyptian regimes have sought US governmental support to assist Egypt in gaining its independence and enable it to act freely in the region. Because historically the United States had no territorial interests in Egypt, Egyptian leaders solicited this strategic connection as potentially a leverage first against the Ottoman Empire, France, and England from the 1830s to World War I, then later against the British military occupation until 1954, and finally against Israel’s occupation of Sinai from 1967 to 1973. Egypt also courted US assistance to support its regional ambitions, to assume leadership of the Arab World, and to stabilize the Middle East. Later, the economic and financial challenges that Egypt has faced in its recent history have led it to request and rely on US military and economic aid.
US interests in Egypt have shifted during their relationship. Initially the United States was interested in trade and protection of private US citizens, especially its Protestant missionaries. But after World War II and the rise of the United States to a position of global leadership, US motives changed. Due to US interests in Persian Gulf oil, its commitment to defend Israel, and its interest in protecting Egypt against the control of hostile powers, the United States became more invested in securing Egypt’s strategic location and utilizing its regional political weight. The United States became involved in securing Egypt from Axis invasions during World War II and in containing Soviet attempts to lock Egypt into an alliance with Moscow. After a period of tense relations from the 1950s to the early 1970s, Egypt and the United States reached a rapprochement in 1974. From that time on, the Egyptian–US strategic partnership emerged, especially after the Camp David Accords, to protect the region from the Soviet Union, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and then to contain the rise of terrorism.
- Foreign Relations and Foreign Policy