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Cairo's US Embassy is Worse by Far - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Anyone who sees America from within and [sees] the goodness of its people loves the country, but whoever looks at the US expanding beyond its borders in all this ugliness is bound to hate America, even if one is a peaceful saint!

You will recall my [previous] story about [my visit to] the US embassy in Riyadh , when I said that the America that is present in the third world is not the same America that is known by Americans at home, and that these embassies are a primary cause for people’s hatred of America. Following this incident, I met with Assistant US Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman at a conference in Bahrain, and he expressed his apology for what happened in the embassy in Riyadh. I accepted his apology, and he promised me that the situation would be resolved.

In order to pursue the truth, I left the Riyadh story and decided to visit the largest US embassy in the world, which is located in the heart of Cairo. It was here that I learnt the secret behind the US embassy bombings in Africa, such as the Kenya and Dar al-Salam [bombings], for perhaps these were not carried out by Al Qaeda at all, but rather by a US citizen or a citizen of another country who has had to deal with the American Embassy in their country, but after a long series of miseries and frustration while trying to be served, and after being left for days without any answer, he simply decided to blow up the embassy.

The US embassy in Cairo is nothing like its counterpart in Riyadh, and on the day that I visited it was like the Mogamma Building in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, in terms of the Egyptian bureaucracy that has been present in this building since the days of Egyptian socialism. The Mogamma Building is a well known building where one cannot obtain an official paper until after having twenty papers stamped, meeting dozens of employees, and standing in long queues. However the suffering in the Mogamma Building is nothing compared to the US embassy in Riyadh, while the US embassy in Cairo makes a visit to the US embassy in Riyadh seem like a walk in the park.

In Riyadh, your car does not stop outside the [US] Embassy, but far away from it, and in Cairo, the embassy obstructs the center of the town and turns it into a hell for passers-by and drivers. This angers citizens. The embassy has become an embodiment of the meaning of disgracefulness in Cairo, in terms of people’s behavior, rudeness, and impoliteness.

If this is the behavior of embassy employees in important Arab capitals like Riyadh and Cairo, then their behavior must certainly be worse in US embassies in poor African countries. If the arrogance and self-importance increased from what is seen in Riyadh and Cairo, it would be very conceivable that one of these disillusioned youth, who is fated to visit the embassy in order to complete his business, in a moment of stupidity and anger, blew up the embassy with those inside it.

I was astounded when I inspected the [embassy] gate in Riyadh, which is monitored by a number of brothers from Bangladesh, the Philippines, and India, who do not speak Arabic or English. In Cairo, you are unable to even enter [the embassy] as there are thugs who are employed by the embassy as guards, and they look at those who pass through the embassy as nothing more than a flock of sheep, rather than humans.

What I requested from the embassy in Cairo was no different than my request to the Riyadh embassy, which is that I wanted to add papers to my passport [rather than renewing it] but the guard told me “we are open for two hours a day, from 9 am to 11 am. Come back tomorrow.” I went the next day at the specified time but was not allowed to enter. I was not like those who rely upon contacts; I wanted to experience this like any ordinary Egyptian citizen. Perhaps the situation has improved following Mr. Feltman’s apology, for he is a strong man who had influence in the Middle East during his time as US ambassador to Lebanon.

What I found in Cairo with regards to mistreatment convinced me that the Americans today have become an important part of the third world, with regards to the culture of corruption and bureaucracy. I hope that a congressional investigation is launched with regards to what is happening in US embassies abroad, for this behavior is what results in hatred of America, and it is enough that things have reached this stage, which has led to the bombing of US embassies.

America does not need Al Qaeda to blow up embassies; it only needs more local staff like those employed by the US embassy in Cairo.