Cairo left without US ambassador for 8 months

Relations with Washington uncertain, Moscow in shadows

22 April, 19:37

    US Embassy in Cairo (archive material) US Embassy in Cairo (archive material)

    (by Remigio Benni) (ANSAmed) - CAIRO - For the past eight months there has not been a US ambassador in the Egyptian capital. The office has instead been led by a succession of commercial attaches.

    The absence of an ambassador in Washington's favorite Arab ally for the past 40 years has raised eyebrows, especially as the May 26-27 presidential election approaches with the likely winner to be Field Marshall Abd El-Fattah El-Sisi, a former army chief who ousted Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi last year. According to the website of the largest Egyptian daily, Al-Ahram, Egyptian and American observers interpret the lack of a high-level US government official in Cairo in different ways.

    In any case, it is a clear sign of the tension between the two and uncertainty on the part of Washington as to what position to take towards domestic developments in the country: although it has never joined the ranks of those calling Morsi's ouster by the military a 'coup d'etat', the Obama administration has criticized the harshness of the crackdown on protests by the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups and has reduced its annual military aid to the country.

    Experts say that another explanation might be greater trust in existing military relations than diplomatic ones. US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called El-Sisi almost every week until he resigned from the government and armed forces and announced his presidential bid.

    Another interpretation is that Washington does not want to be in Egypt after polemics raised by its last ambassador to the country, Ann Patterson, who was called home after her firm stance against the ouster of Morsi, who she pointed out was the only Egyptian president elected in a manner close to that of Western democracies. Egyptian newspapers called the diplomat the 'Ambassador from Hell', 'US Higher Commissioner in Egypt', 'Shameful Patterson', and even the 'White Roach Patterson'.

    There was also the hesitation shown by Egypt's foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, to US Secretary of State's indicating of Robert Ford (who was put forward as a candidate in August 2013 but never sworn in), the former ambassador to Syria and alleged 'animator' of the Syrian uprising against Bashar Al-Assad. Ford is also held to have good relations with Islamist circles and is one of the backers of dialogue between Washington and the Muslim Brotherhood: an organization the country's current leaders declared a ''terrorist organization'' in December.

    Further complications at the international level are posed by - for the first time since President Gamal Abd El-Nasser's time, in the late 1960s - closer relations between Egyptian leaders and Moscow, which gave its undivided support for the military against Morsi, backed El-Sisi's bid for the presidency and offered financial aid to Cairo after the reduction in US military aid. (ANSAmed).

    © Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved

    Business opportunities

    The information system of business
    opportunities abroad

    News from Mediterranean