Egyptian envoy talks bilateral stability

BALTIMORE — The Egypt-U.S. relationship suffered under President Barack Obama but has a chance to recover under the Donald Trump administration, Egypt’s ambassador told an audience here.

Yasser Reda spoke about peace and conflict in the Middle East — including the Israeli conflict with the Palestinians — and mostly evaded criticism of his home country or the United States at an event hosted on April 27 by  the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs.

“This partnership is not only critical for both our countries, but for international security and stability,” he said, noting that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was welcomed warmly at the White House earlier in April.

Under Sisi, Egypt has been criticized for cracking down on protestors, and jailing journalists and aid workers. But Reda preferred to tout his country’s stability.

“We are an indispensable partner for United States in the region, and we will continue to do everything we can to be a model for the surrounding region,” he said.

Reda also affirmed Egypt’s support for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, saying that whatever the Palestinians agree to, Egypt would back with its own assurances.

“We are committed to solve the problem, and this is the only option,” he said.

Reda said the Middle East suffers when institutions of nation-states are undermined. The vacuum is then filled by violent extremists. He pointed to the ongoing civil wars in Libya and Syria, saying these counties needed to revive their institutions, reform them and become inclusive nation-states responsive to their people.

Asked by an audience member about how much land the Palestinians could expect for a state, Reda said the solution is not to consider Palestine before Israel’s creation in 1948. Rather, both parties should work together to find a solution they will agree to.

Sisi came to power in a coup in 2013, two years after the Arab Spring revolution drove longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak from power. The country is battling an Islamist insurgency in the Sinai, and the large Coptic Christian minority faces persecution.

Asked how Egypt is moving forward despite these divisions, Reda said there were no divisions in his country, blaming the impression on the media.

hmonicken@midatlanticmedia.com

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