From Trump to Biden: Egyptian Myths debunked

While  House  of  Representatives’  elections  were  ongoing  in  Egypt,  the  US  Presidential Elections have imposed themselves on the list of interests of citizenry. 

Similar to other countries of the world, it may be the belief of many that the U.S Presidential Elections are more impactful on common citizens than their own elections. This of course reflects a growing state of apathy towards political life that is currently looming over several developing countries. 

On a different note, the Egyptian obsession with the U.S elections’ outcome seemed uninformed at times. Some Egyptians are skeptical that a Biden administration would clash with their Egyptian counterpart over a number of issues. 

It should however be argued that there is no pro-Egypt or anti-Egypt presidencies. There is only a balance of interests. The U.S will not invest time, energy or resources in Egypt unless what happens there domestically affects the U.S in any way. Hence, the limit to which a U.S president would care about Egypt, will go only as far as the U.S interests are concerned.

In my view, President Trump was destined to lose the election. Not only because of a tough opponent, but certainly because of Trump’s very own extremism which resulted in him engaging in unnecessary fights with courts, federal agencies, and the Media; not to mention his arrogance, and his lack of the culture of dialogue as apparent from his day one in office. 

President Trump came in a period of Western history marked with the resurgence of Alt- right and Islamophobia. By the time Trump has spent enough time at the White House, Americans realized that neither their interests nor their culture bode well with him, hence, his defeat was due before his second term.

Another claim which is widely circulated nowadays in Egypt is that Biden will be supportive to the banned Muslim Brotherhood’s return to power. This argument is key to an overall public apprehension.

It must be noted that then-VP Biden was reluctant to support the overthrowing of Former President Mubarak during the Arab Spring. Three days after the revolution in 2011, Biden in an interview refused to “refer to Mubarak as a dictator” and instead described him as an “ally of ours”. Even afterwards, Biden was not vocal to act against the will of the Egyptian people in ousting former President Mohamed Morsi from office in a 2013 popular movement.

Many voices in Egypt are signalling their fears that Biden will be tough on the Egyptian regime on certain matters. While it may be true that the Biden administration will prioritize pressing human rights issues in his global agenda than his predecessor, this does not need to be a cause for worry as it simply signals difference in political agenda between the 2 main US political parties.  

The incoming administration will have hundreds of domestic and international problems  that will need to be addressed urgently. Challenges range from responding to the COVID 19 pandemic, Affordable Care Act, reinstating DACA and reversing Zero-Tolerance Policy, reforming ICE and police agencies, re-joining the World Health Organization, ending Muslim Ban, rethinking the Iranian deal, Paris climate agreement to list a few. 

As  Biden  is  inherently  less  impulsive  than  his  predecessor,  he  is  less  likely  to  take  any uncalculated risks or undergo any unnecessary scuffles with the Egyptian regime.

In fact, Egypt’s vital interests are likely to flourish in a democrat-led White House. Institutionally, the political framework that the Democrats run should allow Egypt to secure its interests by opening up many channels from parties, congressional leaders, bilateral or international diplomacy, intelligence cooperation, think tanks and civil society. 

In other words, Egypt will be able to lobby with different actors to advance mutual interests it shares with the US. President Trump was neither the perfect option for the Egyptian or Arab interests. Examples are too many to count; from the US Jerusalem embassy controversy, to taking sides with Qataris in the Qatar-Arab diplomatic conflict, to the Deal of the Century, to his minimal attention to the Libyan crisis; not to mention his unwillingness to immediately resolve the GERD dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt. In fact, Trump’s false signals of unlimited support to the Egyptian regime was indeed purposeless as it never seemed to show up in times of real need.

At the end of the day, Egypt should not adjust its policies to appeal to the incoming U.S president. As long as Egypt is looking for stability of its political decision and non- interference in its domestic affairs, the country’s willingness to change should be stimulated from within and not be based on whoever is in the White House next January.

Dr.Mohamed A. Fouad
Dr.Mohamed A. Fouad
Mohamed A. Fouad serves as an MP at the Egyptian House of Representatives and a member of the Economic Committee