Differences between Egypt and United States remain over Golan Heights
Despite Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s warm welcome at the White House, several contentious issues cloud the relations between Egypt and United States.
US, Arab contention over Golan
Although Sisi received a warm welcome on 9 April from US President Donald Trump at the White House and Trump said US-Egyptian relations had never been better, reports indicate there were points of contention between Trump and Sisi, not least because of Arab disquiet at Trump’s decision to unilaterally recognize the Golan Heights as being under Israeli sovereignty as well as US concern at reports Cairo ordered dozens of Russian Su-35 fighter jets.
Tensions between Egypt and Washington may increase over the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, with the so-called 'Deal of the Century' expected to be released soon, following Israel’s elections.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu celebrated Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and, in the final days of his campaign, said he would annex West Bank settlements as well.
An Egyptian diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity to the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, said Sisi’s US visit was important because it was the first meeting between Trump and an Arab head of state since the Arab League unanimously rejected Washington’s decision on the Golan Heights.
“We will not be able to say the visit has been fruitful unless we see clear US proposals based on the Arab Peace Initiative,” the diplomat said. That plan calls for a two-state solution and Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan Heights and the West Bank.
US anger over the Egyptian-Russian military contract
During his news briefing with Sisi at the White House, Donald Trump declined to answer questions on Egypt’s reported purchase of Russian fighter jets.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the US Senate that Cairo could face sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act if the Su-35 order is completed.
Reports indicate that Cairo agreed to purchase more than 20 aircraft and weapons from Russia worth $2 billion at the end of 2018, part of a broader policy to diversify the sources of weaponry used by the Egyptian armed forces.
On the other hand, Egypt has pulled out of the US effort to forge an 'Arab NATO' with key Arab allies.
The withdrawal of Egypt, which has the Arab world’s largest military, is the latest setback to the MESA initiative, informally referred to as the 'Arab NATO.' 208/211/104