For Washington, stability in Egypt matters more than human rights

The Wall Street Journal reports: After two years of cool relations between the U.S. and Egypt, the October terrorist attack on a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai Peninsula triggered a flurry of visits here by U.S. officials, who called for increased military aid to shore up President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.

The downing of that jet was claimed by an Islamic State affiliate based in the Sinai. The possibility that the mysterious crash of an Egyptian airliner last week was another act of terrorism has only intensified worries that Mr. Sisi is unable to contain the threat, according to a U.S. official, a Western diplomat and other experts.

“An incident like this on the heels of another airline disaster is always going to speed up any cooperation on security even if the cause is not yet clear,” the Western diplomat said.

Regardless of what actually caused the EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo to crash, Michael Hanna, an Egypt expert at the Century Foundation, said recent traffic from Washington suggests the U.S. will seek to increase support for the Sisi regime despite deep concerns about its human-rights record.

The goal is to avoid having Egypt — long a U.S. ally under longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak — follow the downward spiral of Iraq, Syria and neighboring Libya, where terrorists have exploited security vacuums in recent years.

“Egypt is too big to fail in the eyes of the U.S. and Europe,” Mr. Hanna said. [Continue reading…]

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