Sunday, July 28, 2013

US-Egypt: "Behind the scenes, military-to-military exchanges are intense & civilian aid continues to flow"

'Administration officials concede that events in Egypt are going to take more time than originally thought to restore order and stability. The earlier policy of accommodating the Egyptian military’s removal of the Morsi government is under strain, but the advice to give the generals more time is still dominant. As one official explained to us: “We are being forced to build some sticks into what was hitherto a policy of mostly carrots.” The delay in delivery of four F-16 aircraft is intended to signal to the military that, despite the Administration’s overall support of their actions, they do not have a free hand and must keep to a reasonable timetable to restore civilian rule. Behind the scenes, military-to-military exchanges are intense and civilian aid continues to flow, albeit in controversial legal circumstances. Pentagon officials explain that the aircraft delay should be seen as a “gesture” not as a change in policy.  Whether this will be convincing is a source of rising concern in Washington. “There is a real chance,” one State Department official conceded to us that “we will lose what leverage we have in Cairo.” On a more optimistic note, prospects for some form of meeting on the Middle East peace process will soon take place in Washington. Outside Secretary of State Kerry’s immediate team, it is not easy to find anyone who will do more than note Kerry’s doggedness. On Syria, Kerry’s focus on the downward humanitarian spiral continues to meet firm resistance from the top Pentagon leadership to any suggestion of US military response. Turning to Iran, the forthcoming installation of a new government in Tehran is prompting talk about direct meetings between US and Iranian officials on the lines of advice to the Administration from former senior diplomatic officials. These suggestions are meeting strong condemnation from Washington-based opponents of the regime, but our Administration contacts all suggest that the US will wait to see whether there is any hard evidence of a change of heart in Tehran about the nuclear program before adjusting course. The one area of good news for the Administration appears to be the Korean Peninsular where, as one official described it to us, the US policy of “refusing to be provoked” is stimulating a more conciliatory approach from Pyongyang.'

No comments: