As complicated as the fight against Islamic extremists may be, you don’t have to be a foreign policy wonk to see a viable path forward for President Donald Trump’s new administration.
The President has already taken the first step, calling on the Pentagon to develop a comprehensive plan of attack. And in a recent address to Congress, he vowed to “work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim World, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.”
One of the best-positioned partners to stand with the United States against Islamic extremism also happens to represent one of America’s oldest and deepest alliances in the Arab world — Egypt.
From its geographic advantages to its longstanding position as a regional leader, here are five reasons Islamic terror cells everywhere should fear a strengthened U.S.-Egypt alliance:
1. Partners in Peace:
The U.S. and Egypt already have decades of military-to-military collaboration. For thirty years, the U.S. has helped Egypt train and equip a large, modern, and powerful military that contributes to both Egyptian security and Middle Eastern stability. Meanwhile, Egypt helps facilitate the movement of U.S. military assets across the region through preferential passage of the Suez Canal and overflights of Egypt’s territory.
2. A Profound Transformation:
Egypt has proven resilient to turmoil, with a rebounding economy and even stronger long-term prospects. Following years of political instability and economic hardship, Egypt is rebuilding itself to spur economic growth, spark technological innovation and lure international investment. A series of far-reaching reforms by President Sisi’s government has already borne fruit, proof of which can be seen in global ratings agencies upgrading Egypt’s sovereign credit rating. Egypt’s economic progress can help the United States meet its regional strategic goals.
3. Eye-to-Eye on Diplomacy:
Both countries are aligned on Israel, Iran, and shared interests across the Middle East. The U.S. and Egypt share worries about the rise of Iran and its support of terrorism through foreign proxies, as well as the regional effect of dysfunctional states such as Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. Egypt is also a steadfast neighbor to Israel, remaining the first of only two Arab states with the courage to invest in a peaceful relationship with America’s most valuable ally in the region. Today, Egypt-Israeli relations are stronger than ever. Egypt can be an active broker in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
4. The Clout to Counter Extremism:
Egypt’s unique geographical positioning makes it the keystone to achieving stability in the Middle East. As home to the Arab world’s largest population, Egypt can help build public support among other moderate populations in the Middle East. It is advocating for religious tolerance, education reform, and women’s empowerment — important areas where it is already leading the Arab world by example. Egyptian-produced media — movies, entertainment programs, and talk shows — are the most watched across the Arab world.
5. The Table’s Already Set:
All the two nations need to do is leverage their existing relationships. There is already a deep level of collaboration between diplomats, the military services, and intelligence professionals of both countries. This opens the door for enhanced political and diplomatic engagements with the Trump administration. In a region where the United States needs willing, moderate allies to achieve its strategic interests, its long-established partner in the region remains vital to today’s security challenges.
The fact is, Egypt offers far more than this list could encompass — it could have included 10, 15, 50 reasons for strengthening the historic bonds between the United States and Egypt. Will it always be smooth and easy for Egypt and the U.S. to work together? Of course not. There will inevitably be setbacks. That should be expected, for any nation in the kind of transformation Egypt is experiencing.
But what remains obvious is the clear progress Egypt has already made, and the potential for advancing stability, security, and prosperity for the region — and the world — if Egypt and America seize this opportunity.