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US and Egypt resume joint military exercises after a decade

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Photo: AFP

After an eight year hiatus, Egypt and the US will hold joint military exercises today; the Egyptian revolution in 2011, and subsequent military coup in 2013, forced the US to cancel similar drills.

Under Barack Obama, relations between the two countries deteriorated, as the former president refused to take a stance on Egypt’s series of aforementioned regime changes. Mr Obama also grew frustrated with human rights abuses under the current president, Abdel al-Sisi.

By contrast, President Trump has praised the “fantastic job” al-Sisi is doing fighting terrorism. Consequently, Trump’s election was met with enthusiasm in Cairo, with al-Sisi being the first foreign leader to congratulate the president on his victory.

The honeymoon didn’t last long; just two weeks ago, Washington cancelled and delayed a combined $300 million in aid after President al-Sisi signed a law targeting humanitarian NGOs. While Egypt’s foreign ministry described the decision as “poor judgement”, the withheld funds only represent a fraction of the $1.3 billion in military aid Washington sends to Cairo each year.

While it is unlikely that Trump will do significantly more to urge Cairo to improve its current human rights record, it is likely that the Washington will pressure Egypt to cut ties with North Korea or cooperate more closely with the US on regional conflicts, like Syria and Libya.

Delve Deeper: Egypt: new friends and old

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