The negotiation continues between Jenkins and Seddik.
Both presidents called in their staffs and the long day of negotiations began. Up first were the all-important photo ops. The staff seated with Seddik and Jenkins standing, shaking hands, talking pleasantly. Jenkins was thankful it only lasted a few minutes before the room was cleared and the hard work began. Egypt’s representatives started with their military, pushing yet again for the Americanization of their military to the tune of fifteen billion dollars of equipment. Jenkins and his team listened politely. The discussion became heated, escalating with each jab thrown by either side. Seddik angered quicker than Jenkins, or at least he was quicker to show his anger.
“We will not be bullied!” Seddik yelled as he stood. Silence met his outburst.
Jenkins’s staff looked at Jenkins, waiting for him to speak. “Gentlemen, can you give us the room for a few minutes?” Jenkins’s staff immediately stood and walked out of the room. Seddik nodded his agreement to his general, who then stood to leave. The rest of Seddik’s staff followed the general out of the room. Seddik was still standing. “Please,” Jenkins said, gesturing the chair across from him. Seddik sat down, but the anger was still on his face. “What you are asking will not materialize. Would you rather I lie to you? Would you like me to say we will give you everything you ask only for me not to deliver on that promise?” Seddik didn’t answer, but Jenkins could see Seddik’s anger lessen. “Amon, may I call you Amon?” Seddik gave one quick nod. “Amon, here is what I believe needs to occur. We need to explore further how a US presence can be placed here. I don’t want to place a base here, but the kind of weapons you are asking for leaves me no choice. I will not agree to fifteen billion dollars of equipment and weapons without a base here to protect our investment. Your military is spit-polished and well- trained but not tested in any real conflict. It is too big a risk.”
“You insult my country’s army?” Seddik’s response was riddled with anger.
Jenkins smiled. “Name one major conflict against another nation you have fought. Fighting back rebellions don’t count.” Jenkins countered. “We need to explore the forms of US presence acceptable by you and your military chiefs. These could be joint military exercises, forming joint security teams, for example. These things help us deter Soviet aggression. They help us, Amon. You said that you feel the Soviets are stirring up trouble in your provinces. The show of force with US military participation shows not only our commitment to Egypt and the peace accord but shows that Egypt is strengthening its position in the world through cooperation with its allies. You can’t go alone—no country can any longer.” Jenkins looked at Seddik for any sign he was weakening.
“If I agree to this, I get all of the weapons and equipment my country asked for?”
“Over time, you will receive what you want and the ability to negotiate more frequently as the landscape of the Middle East changes,” Jenkins replied. There was a moment of silence. “Additionally, in the months ahead, my State Department will begin to lay the groundwork for multinational security cooperation focusing on areas of Soviet aggression. Our first interests are in Oman and North Yemen. We hope that Egypt will join this. I won’t lie to you, Amon, but the United States has a more pressing issue. Egypt at least has an army. Saudi Arabia with its location close to the hotbed of Soviet aggression is much weaker in that it has no standing army. We intend to step up the pace of military deployments and weaponry to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel. We will bring Egypt into our plans, but at a pace we deem appropriate based on our assessments of the viability of your military forces. With the internal instability of not just Egypt, but most countries in the Middle East, there will be no build-up of any country’s military without United States presence. That’s the deal. Take it or leave it.” Jenkins looked at his watch. “It’s not like I have a plane to catch. Air Force One can be ready to leave on my command.”
“Once again the United States favors Israel over all the other nations in the Middle East,” Seddik spit out. His angst for Israel was on full display in both his tone and facial expression.
“Our commitment is equal to all four countries and based on our intelligence and military assessments of each country. We deal in reality, Mr. President. Your nation is not ready for the might you are asking for, and the simple truth is that your country could use these weapons against you,” Jenkins responded even-handedly. “I have no desire to aid a coup.”
Seddik was a prideful man and didn’t like the dressing down that he was receiving. Jenkins knew this, but Jenkins wasn’t one to pussyfoot around or make false assurances to move an agenda ahead. Seddik studied Jenkins for a moment. Jenkins knew what was coming next. “I suggest you and your staff leave for the United States. I will consider your offer.” Seddik stood up.
“Just so I am clear,” Jenkins responded. “You aren’t saying no. You are just asking for some time to prepare your staff.”
Seddik extended his hand. “That is what I am saying. But if it looks like I told you to leave, this gives me a better negotiating position with my military chiefs.”
Jenkins acknowledged Seddik’s comments with a handshake. “Well, it won’t be the first time I stormed out of a meeting. I wish you the best with the work ahead of you. Call me anytime if I can be of assistance.”
“Thank you, Mr. President,” Seddik responded. “Shall we start the production?”
Jenkins gave a sardonic laugh. “We’ll be out of the palace within the hour.” Jenkins released Seddik’s hand and walked to the double door of the conference room. He paused, mustering up the angry look he would need to pull off the charade. He swung open the door and headed to the suite, flashbulbs firing, his scrambling staff and secret service agents in his wake. When they reached the suite, Jenkins explained to his staff that they were leaving and that he would brief them fully aboard Air Force One. Their next destination would be London.