حفلة 2024

Egypt has promising opportunities for U.S. investments: MEI vice chair

Egypt has promising opportunities for investment in various sectors, yet more measures should be taken to combat bureaucracy, said vice president of the Washington-based Middle East Institute (MEI) on Monday.

Paul Salem made these remarks during meeting with the members of the door knock mission to Washington organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham Egypt).

The relationship between the current U.S. administration and Egypt embraces the continuing cooperation on the economic, military and counter-terrorism levels and the peace treaty between Cairo and Tel Aviv, Salem said.

He highlighted the war on terrorism as another dimension that enhances the relationship between the two countries.

As for the anticipated visit of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Washington, DC this month came as part of the warm relations between the two countries and their leaders, Salem said.

The visit will not affect the U.S. position on the issue of the Golan Heights, Salem told the media delegation accompanying the door knock mission.

“Although President Trump will not back down from his decision to consider Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan, which he has taken to guarantee the support of the Evangelical voters and to support Prime Minister Netanyahu in the upcoming Israeli elections, he [Trump] recognises the importance of the Egyptian role in several files, notably the Gaza Strip and relations with Fatah and Hamas,” Salem said.

As for Egypt’s efforts to diversify its arms suppliers, Salem said that this trend is also present in the Gulf states and Turkey. He added that the U.S. administration is keen to keep the status quo with regards to the military strategic relations. “The US administration knows that we are talking here about diversifying sources and not replacing one source with another.”

Regarding the constitutional amendments in Egypt, Salem said that he saw these changes as state policy and that they would not affect the bilateral relations.

According to Salem, if the so-called deal of the century would take place, Egypt would have an essential role in determining the extent of the response of Arab countries to the deal, adding, “The Trump administration understands that Egypt is keen that any peace arrangements must first receive Palestinian acceptance.”

He explained that there is no reliable information about the so-called deal of the century and that the common factor in the leaks that are being circulated relates to the existence of one state. This is in addition to granting Palestinians self-governance over some lands and providing economic benefits to be financed by Arab countries.

“This is unacceptable to the Palestinians, to Egypt, or to any of the Arab states,” Salem stressed.

Trump winning a second term?

Salem believes that the upcoming U.S. presidential election in November 2020 has already started. And that the possibility of Trump winning a second term remains strong, unless a strong Democratic presidential candidate shows up.

He added if the Democrats win the presidency, it might negatively affect the U.S.-Egyptian relations. However, the essence of the relations between the two countries to remain unchanged, he explained, adding that, on the other hand, U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia may witness some negative changes.

The Iranian file is the top priority on Trump administration’s agenda, Salem stressed, adding that despite harsh sanctions against Iran, the U.S. stance on the ground remains soft.

“The United States did not exert any military pressure on Iran in Syria to achieve the main objective of the sanctions, which is to curb Iranian influence,” he said.

According to Salem, the US-Iranian relationship can be described as ‘no war, no negotiation’, adding that the US military withdrawal from Syria and the possibility of withdrawing from Afghanistan will leave Iran with an opportunity to strengthen its presence in the region.

“Similar to the status quo during the time of the Soviet Union,” Salem concluded.

China still main concern for Washington 

Salem asserted that China has been a long-time concern for Americans. During a recent visit of the institute to the Pentagon, one of the Department of Defence’s officials said that China is the first and main concern for them.

The official added that the Americans do not have the same concern for Russia, as it is less vital than China, in terms of the economy and population which is decreasing.

However, China enjoys a strong economy, enormous population, and advanced technologies, especially the 5G technology, the official added. Salem noted that the Chinese are more advanced than the Americans in this type of technology which will lead the world.

The official also expressed the American concern over the Chinese superiority in investing in artificial intelligence, as they fear China could surpass them.

Salem revealed that the Pentagon officials made a permanent impression to him that any American view toward the Middle East should involve the question of:  Where is China?

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