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Last updated at 18:22 GMT, Monday, 31 January 2011

Analysis: US-Egypt military links could be essential

Summary

Thousands of protesters have gathered in Cairo for a seventh day of demonstrations calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power. America's links with the Egyptian army could influence what happens next. Jonathan Marcus reports.

Reporter:
Jonathan Marcus

Anti-government protesters on the streets of Cairo

Tens of thousands of protesters have marched on the streets of Cairo

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Report

The television pictures of the Egyptian army on the streets of Cairo are a testament to the close relationship between the Pentagon and the Egyptian military. Many of the tanks are US-designed, but built in Egypt itself. This tank production-line is a potent symbol of the close military ties between the two countries.

And no wonder. For while much attention is given to the US-Israel relationship, it's actually that between Washington and Cairo that has been the strategic cornerstone of US policy in the Middle East for decades.

Indeed Egypt's importance explains the fundamental ambivalence in US policy; the advocacy of democratic change often compromised by the pragmatic short-term desire to bolster a political order that backs wider US policies in the region.

Jonathan Marcus, BBC News

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Vocabulary

a testament

proof of (something)

potent symbol

strong representation or illustration (of)

ties

links or connections

strategic cornerstone

here, the foundation or most important consideration (in US policy for the Middle East)

ambivalence

conflicting approach

advocacy of

public support for

compromised

let down or caused to fail

pragmatic

practical

bolster

strengthen and support

wider

larger or more general

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