With rising tensions in the Middle East pushing countries such as Egypt into economic and political disorganization, Abdul-Monem Al-Mashat, a professor at Egypt’s Future University, gave a lecture on revolutions in the Middle East for the political science department Friday at the Charles Phelps Taft Research Center.
Al-Mashat began the lecture with a discussion of conditions in the Middle East, explaining how Egyptians line up in front of the American embassy to get visas to come to the United States.
“There is no doubt that Arab revolutions in 2011 took the U.S. and Europe by surprise,” Al-Mashat said.
Following the Arab Revolution, Mashat described the interactions between Egypt and the United States as “suspicion and distrust.”
Mashat went on to discuss the United States’ support of certain dictators in the Middle East, under the assumption that they will create political stability, while opposing others, such as previous leaders in Syria.
Mashat says that this causes Egyptians to ask, “How could the U.S. side with non-democratic regimes?”
Following the Arab Revolutions, the Muslim Brotherhood regime took power through democratic processes, electing president Mohamed Morsi. Al-Mashat said Morsi is “trying to change Egypt’s identity,” leading to the 2013 overthrow of Morsi.
Al-Mashat said the two major problems moving forward with Egypt’s stability include solving the almost daily involvement of war against terrorists and reviving the suffering economy Egypt has experienced over the past four years.
“Egypt, which assisted the U.S. in its war against international terrorism, expects the U.S. to extend assistance in its fight against terrorists, whether they are in Sinai or in Libya,” Al-Mashat said. “[The] transfer of technology, economic assistance, U.S. corporations [and] US investors would help aid the ‘New Egypt.’ ”
Chris Postell, a fourth-year Political Science student, reflected on the lecture after the discussion.
“To see the Arab Spring, the Egyptian elections and the protests, from an Egyptian perspective gave a really interesting way to look at it,” Postell said.
According to Richard Harknett, chairman of UC’s political science department, Al-Mashat’s lecture signifies the blossoming relationship between the two universities.
“Our hopes are to expand it on several different levels,” Harknett said. “Faculty exchange on the instructional level, creating a research environment for those studying international relations. [Work on the] student level, starting next year, for graduate students — particularly pursuing dissertations and PhD work — as well as undergraduate study abroad and student exchange.”
The flourishing relationship exemplifies Al-Mashat’s hope for a safer Middle East.
“Education, culture and human interactions are the key elements in making a barrier against terrorists,” Al-Mashat said.