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Egypt’s Islamist president presents challenge for U.S.

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Mr. Morsi, in his first televised speech as president-elect, sought to allay concerns in the U.S. and Israel by declaring his intention to preserve all of Egypt’s international accords.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week described such statements as positive, but added, “We’ll have to wait and judge by what is actually done.”

Some analysts view the president-elect’s comments with skepticism.

“The U.S. is not as certain as it was in the case of Mubarak that the Muslim Brotherhood will respect the peace treaty,” Ms. Ottaway said.

Mr. Trager said: “Morsi has said that he will abide by all agreements, but has frequently carved out exceptions for popular will and strategic priorities, and the consensus in Egypt is that peace with Israel is not a strategic priority.”

Peace with Israel hinges on stability in the Sinai Peninsula, where a flare-up could set the region ablaze.

The Brotherhood’s support for closer ties with Iran also has set off alarm bells in Washington.

Mr. Morsi, however, is unlikely to come to office with a big foreign policy agenda, largely out of necessity, analysts say.

One of his biggest challenges will be to put the country’s economy back on track.

Egypt’s tourism industry, its main source of income, has been ravaged since the start of the anti-Mubarak uprising in January 2011.

These harsh economic realities likely will force the Brotherhood to moderate its foreign policy agenda.

“The Brotherhood is going to cultivate the support of the United States and Europe because they need foreign investment and improved trade arrangements,” Ms. Dunne said.

Mr. Abaza agreed.

“Egypt needs the U.S. for the sake of its economy and for Washington’s support in financial institutions such as the World Bank and the [International Monetary Fund],” he said.

About the Author

Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.

Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.

 

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