by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, April 2 (Xinhua) -- The ongoing chaos in the Middle East region, growing terrorism worldwide in addition to common interests turned Western attention to Egypt's regional role and prompted thaw in the Egyptian-Western ties, said Egyptian political experts.
Egypt ties with the West in general and the United States in particular have gone through a stage of tension following the military removal of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 and the later massive security crackdown on his supporters and his now-blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood group.
Eventually, with the chaos in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and South Sudan as well as growing terrorist operations of the regional Islamic State (IS) militant group and consequent influx of regional migrants to Western states, the West found it necessary to maintain good terms with Egypt as a key player in the turmoil-stricken region.
"If we talk about the Libyan issue, Egypt's role is undoubtedly influential, whether through sponsoring negotiations between warring parties, or supporting the Libyan military led by Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, or maintaining distinguished relations with the Libyan parliament in the east," said Mohamed Gomaa, researcher at the Arab and Regional Unit of Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
Calm in Libya is surely important for several Western states that suffer growing illegal migration to their soil via Libyan seashores, which has been one of the focal points in the discussions between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi during her visit to Cairo in March.
Having good relations with the Palestinian National Authority and maintaining a 38-year-old U.S.-brokered peace treaty with Israel, Egypt is seen by the West as a key player that could play a real effective role in any future settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
"Egypt's historical role in the Palestinian issue is still in effect in some way or another. Therefore, it is difficult to reach any development in the Palestinian issue, whether in terms of inter-Palestinian reconciliation or revival of Palestinian-Israeli negotiation, without having Cairo in the background," the researcher told Xinhua, adding that Jordan is also an influential player in the Palestinian issue.
Gomaa continued that recent Western openness to Egypt cannot only be explained through Egypt's regional significance, but there are also other factors including common interests, such as Western investments in Egypt like those of Germany and Western arms deals with Egypt like those of France.
Egypt is fighting against a growing wave of terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in the restive northern part of Sinai Peninsula, most of which have been claimed by a Sinai-based group loyal to the regional IS terrorist group.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian forces killed hundreds of militants and arrested a similar number of suspects in North Sinai province bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, as part of the country's "war against terrorism" declared by former army chief and current President Sisi.
Thus, the West, particularly the United States, sees Egypt as the right regional partner in the U.S-led global anti-terror war, especially that U.S. President Donald Trump and President Sisi eye promising partnership and cooperation between their administrations under their rule.
"There is an American-Western position on the necessity to compromise with Egypt as the only country in the region that is fighting terrorism on its own, without relying on foreign parties," said Tarek Fahmy, a political science professor at Cairo University.
Fahmy said that there are also Western concerns regarding the return of regional Western fighters to Europe and the flow of regional refugees and illegal migrants to Western states, and this is why the European Union coordinates with Egypt in this regard.
Sisi flew to Washington to hold talks with Trump on April 3 at the latter's invitation. Both presidents have repeatedly exchanged remarks of praise and expressed expectations of future partnership. The picture is completely different than that under former President Barack Obama, whose administration suspended the annual 1.3 billion dollar military aid to Egypt after Morsi's removal. The aid is surely promised to be resumed under Trump.
"With regards to the U.S. administration, Trump's vision on fighting terrorism conforms with that of Sisi. Trump said that he is going to count on Egypt and Jordan in fighting terrorism in the region," the professor told Xinhua.