This scene was cut-even though I wanted it to stay. Jenkins is a strong leader, and this scene displays the leadership even in a negotiation. There is more to this scene that will be posted in the following days. I’m trying not to give you too much to read at one time. Again–the disclaimer applies. It didn’t make the book, so things can change in the future.
Jenkins and Seddik meet in Egypt.
Jenkins dressed and was promptly on time for his meeting with Seddik. Escorted to the meeting room by his secret service detail and Amsu, Jenkins walked into the room and greeted Seddik with a smile and firm handshake. After an exchange of pleasantries, Jenkins complimenting Seddik’s chef on the breakfast that awaited him was just one of the exchanges, Seddik asked if they could get down to business. Jenkins agreed, and the two men sat down across from each other.
Jenkins started to talk. “Mr. President—”
“Don’t you want our staffs to join us?”
“I thought we’d talk privately first,” Jenkins said. “I wanted to hear from you directly why you think the Soviets are plotting against Egypt.”
“We intercepted some communique from the Soviets to Syrian president Hayyan al-Ashear. They were messages about recruiting Muslims here in Egypt who oppose the peace treaty with Israel. There is also intelligence to suggest that Libya may be plotting against Egypt as well. My intelligence chief tells me he has forwarded this intelligence to your CIA. Have you not been informed?”
“Not in great detail,” Jenkins replied. “What is the intent of the recruitments?”
“Riots are mentioned many times. They want to start trouble in Israel’s name to undermine the treaty.”
“Any threats to you personally?” Jenkins asked.
“I have received threats, but my security team says they are not credible. Those who have threatened me will be dealt with accordingly.” Seddik sat forward placing his elbows on the table and clasping his hands. “Have you received information that is more credible?”
“No,” Jenkins responded. “Mr. President, we understand the dangers in this region and to you for taking such a great stride toward peace. We understand the position Egypt is in taking this bold step. I want to personally assure you we will do what is necessary to secure and keep that peace.”
“Then send me the weapons I requested,” Seddik countered. “I don’t understand the delay.”
“Democracy doesn’t come without some delay,” Jenkins replied. “Various committees and our government are reviewing the request you made while in Camp David. They require a vote—an agreement by Congress—before we can ship any equipment to you. I can only promise that I will apply pressure to speed up the process.” Jenkins paused when he saw Seddik’s displeasure. “Mr. President, you are asking the United States to ‘Americanize’ your military. There are limits to what I can provide you. You need to understand we typically don’t turn our weapons over to countries, even our allies, without assurances. Part of those is that we have a strong security force present and cooperation in regards to the sharing of intelligence information. Egypt has not been forthcoming in either. I am told that Egypt refuses to share intelligence. How can we anticipate your needs if you won’t share your intelligence with us?” Jenkins waited for an answer that didn’t come. “To be perfectly honest with you, sir, Congress is not going to ‘Americanize’ your army using peace in the Middle East as the rallying cry. Peace will not be obtained through arms deals. We learned that in Vietnam and Afghanistan. God only knows I don’t need a third country to verify that observation.”
“Mr. President, Egypt was promised certain things as part of the agreement,” Seddik reiterated. “We expect to get the weapons we requested.”
“President Seddik, we will not provide you with weapons that will do nothing but make you a strong military force in a region as unstable as the Middle East without cooperation from Egypt in the areas of security, a US presence here, and intelligence sharing. It was part of the bargain when the treaty was signed. The Soviets are increasing their pressure on Egypt because they know you are isolating yourself by not allowing us to assist you.” Jenkins sat back. “Allow me to provide you with one scenario. IF,” Jenkins emphasized this word to be clear, “the United States does provide you with your list of weapons, but is not allowed to aid Egypt in the ways I and President Andrews described, should Egypt fall into the hands of the Soviet Union, all of our weapons would then end up in our adversary’s hands. I can’t imagine Egypt agreeing to something of this nature if the situation was reversed. So don’t expect the United States to blindly believe that you and your military could withstand an attack from the Soviets, even one disguised as an attack from Libya or Syria, your neighbors. Is that any clearer?”
Seddik studied Jenkins. “You were not at Camp David.”
“No, I was not, but I was chairmen of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Your conversation with President Andrews was not part of the formal agreement. He made certain assurances to get you back to the table. I also know that he told you those assurances would take some work to make it through Congress. You knew the risks.” Jenkins looked at Seddik. “I am not saying we will not provide you with some of your requests. I am saying they come with a higher cost with your ability to influence the direction in the Middle East.”
“I will not have a United States military base in Egypt. It will make Egypt look weak.”
“Did I say anything about a base?” Jenkins asked. “I did not. We will have a presence here, but I cannot justify the cost of opening a base here, especially since it seems that Egypt isn’t fully committed to the relationship that President Andrews implied.” Jenkins continued, “America will protect its interest here. Make no mistake about that. If that means we do so through other countries, we will do that regardless of our relationship with Egypt. We were hopeful that Egypt would be a very good friend, but we will not be fleeced. Twenty billion dollars of military equipment requires a bigger commitment from our friend.”
“Mr. President, with the fall of Iran, what other country would you go to? The Soviets are supporting Libya and Syria. Your position in the Middle East grows weaker, much weaker if I decide your price tag is too high. Where would America turn?”
“Well, we would increase our presence in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Jordan. There is no question that Egyptian cooperation with us would strengthen our position, but you haven’t convinced us of your willingness to cooperate.”
Seddik thought for a moment. “I feel we are chasing each other around a tree. Why don’t we get our staffs in here and discuss the agenda we agreed to a few weeks ago. At the end of the day, we will sit together again and decide if our concerns have been addressed and what our next steps will be. Is that agreeable?”
“We can proceed,” Jenkins confirmed. “You are aware of our position.”