Jeremy M. Sharp
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
This report provides an overview of U.S.-Egyptian relations, Egyptian politics, and U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. Major public unrest transpiring in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world in late January 2011 raises challenging policy questions for the United States government and the 112th Congress. U.S. policy toward Egypt has long been framed as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running military cooperation and sustaining the March 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Successive U.S. Administrations have viewed Egypt’s government as a moderating influence in the Middle East. At the same time, there have been increasing U.S. calls for Egypt to democratize. In recent years, congressional views of U.S.-Egyptian relations have varied. Many lawmakers have viewed Egypt as a stabilizing regional force, but some members have argued for the United States to pressure Egypt’s government to implement political reforms, improve human rights, and take a more active role in reducing Arab-Israeli tensions. Those concerns, in addition to economic frustration, are now driving the most significant public unrest in Egypt in a generation. The Obama Administration has called on the Egyptian government to respect the basic rights of protestors and has expressed concern about violence.