Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
In the midst of an uneasy period in U.S.-Egypt relations, The Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy hosted a March 16 panel discussion titled "The United States and Egypt: Where Do We Go from Here?" at its Washington, DC offices. Daniel Byman, director of research at the Saban Center, moderated the discussion.
Shadi Hamid, director of research at Brookings Doha Center, addressed the tension surrounding the Egyptian government's decision to place U.S.-based NGO workers on trial. While Hamid said he believes that Egypt's military council (SCAF) has targeted NGOs to "manufacture" anti-American nationalism, he added that, in doing so, the SCAF has capitalized on something already present in Egyptian society. The vast majority of NGOs raided by the government were based in Egypt, he pointed out, raising concerns "about the very life of democracy" in the country.
According to Hamid, Egyptian apprehension toward the U.S. can in part be attributed to the U.S. "privileging stability over democracy" in Egypt for many years. Conspiracy theories regarding the U.S. have reached a fever pitch in Egypt, he said, to the point where "even liberals...are accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of being American stooges."
Saban Center visiting fellow Khaled Elgindy stated that the controversy has "hurt Egypt's international standing." Given Egypt's heavy reliance on tourism as a source of revenue, he added, Cairo has acted "irresponsibly" in allowing the drama to escalate. …