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U.S.-Egyptian Relations and Challenges

November 30, 2006 by  


Cairo’s Consul-General to San Francisco: The Honorable Abderaham Salaheldin

By Geoffrey Cook

Berkeley–November 12th–The following is an article based on an interview with Cairo’s Consul-General to San Francisco, Abderaham Salaheldin. Salaheldin is responsible for Egypt’s representation to Northern California and also for most of the Western American states.

Curiously, many issues that he has to deal with are unrelated to political matters. Just such a non-political issue is a show containing treasures from St. Catherine’s Monastery of Mt. Sinai.

Currently there is a show of the treasures of Saint Catherine’s. This represents Egypt’s Christian period. Salahedrin was anxious to find an American institution within the western US that might be able to display the show, but there was some anxiety in Alexandria over lending the treasures because of the damage done to King Tut‘s crown during its tour of our continent during the 1970s.

Saint Catherine’s is holy to Muslims as well, in part because some say it was the place where Moses (as) saw the Burning Bush; therefore it has meaning for all the Abrahmic religions.

“I would like to see these treasures go all around the world,” said Salaheldin. “It is [one of the] best ways to help people understand each another {i.e., artistic relics.”

There are Centers for American culture in Egypt. “Hopefully these establishments can help us better understand one another…our relationship survived the short-sightedness of the Nasser years…Culture is the [very] best way to stay in touch….” and the Land of the Nile probably has the longest lasting civilization on earth to contemplate!

Salaheldin stated that “…No peace can be maintained without the support of the United States.” The stability of our reconciliation with Israel is one such example by the under the intervention of President Jiimmy Carter.

Egypt was part of the Coalition of the (first) Gulf War (1991), but Egyptians perceive the current Iraqi War as basically an anti-Arab effort; and thus, it refused to take part. He said, “I do not wish to converse on this horrendous thing!”

A positive occurrence is the progress of his country’s open economy. 35% of their GNP is produced by the private sector. “We have been successful we have been doing it gradually even though Washington has been pressuring us to go faster! He feels Egypt should manage its own internal businesses without being compelled by their allies.

It is true, though, that the District of Columbia has been helping Egypt build its physical infrastructure. At the same time they have been trading back $300 billion needed products to us in North America. The Land of the Nile, though, is dependent on our IT (technology). Their telecommunications segment is modest although growing, at a rate of 50% in comparison to the rest of the region.

Our two countries have been working together in their area over many things for over forty years, but the States “gave the Arab republic $1.2 billion dollars to purchase U.S. military equipment from us during the Gulf War, but we could only make our purchases from America!” Trade and aid has been fairly one sided: To the States benefit.

Salaheldin said he believes his country should be responsible for its own indigenous militants… “In our part of the world…moderates have to speak out!

“Arabs have a great respect for Americans. We do not hate you although we do need the means to get the necessary support from the West for development. Most importantly, we should not force anything on the other!”

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