Ahmed H. Zewail

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Some members of Congress have criticized Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi lately and called for a reduction in or elimination of U.S. military aid as a way of punishing his administration. After meeting with Sisi in Cairo recently and talking to a wide range of citizens there, I have come to understand why most Egyptians now support him. And I believe that cutting foreign aid to Egypt at this point would harm the U.S.-Egypt relationship and have serious consequences for the Middle East.

History illustrates the danger. In 1955, in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, the United States agreed to provide funding to help build the Aswan Dam and create a source of hydroelectric power considered pivotal to Egypt's industrialization.…  Seguir leyendo »

When I was a boy in Desuq, Egypt, a city on the Rosetta branch of the Nile, about 50 miles east of Alexandria, my family lived steps away from the local landmark, a mosque named for a 13th-century Sufi sheik. Five times a day, we would hear the call to prayer. Our imam encouraged us to study, telling my friends and me, again and again, of the message revealed by the Prophet Muhammad: “iqra” — read! Education was in the fabric of our culture and religion.

I left Egypt in 1969 for graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania. I have been on the faculty at Caltech for 37 years and carried dual citizenship for 31.…  Seguir leyendo »

Egypt is in turmoil, and many so-called experts have concluded that religion is the cause. It is not.

The source of turmoil is the gap between expectations of speedy change by those who made the people’s revolution two years ago and the slow process of building an entirely new society.

Throughout my life I have never seen Egyptians expressing such an intense feeling of national ownership. This is one of the most important rewards of the revolution. The people are thirsty for real democracy after the revolution empowered them to seek their rights.

They may have been patient for 30 years of Hosni Mubarak’s reign, yet are impatient with the progress made so far precisely because it is their own expectations they must live up to.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Aug. 5, I was among those who witnessed the rover Curiosity landing on Mars in real time at NASA's Caltech-managed Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The excitement was overwhelming: The one-ton Mars Science Laboratory broke through the Red Planet's atmosphere, slowed its speed from 13,000 mph to almost zero and touched down. One glimpse of those first images from more than 100 million miles away demonstrated America's leadership in innovation.

Curiosity — the rover and the concept — is what science is all about: the quest to reveal the unknown. America's past investment in basic science and engineering, and its skill at nurturing the quest, is what led to the Mars triumph, and it is what undergirds U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

A few days ago, I watched a debate between Amr Moussa and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, two of the leading candidates among the 13 running for president of Egypt. This stunning debate went on for more than four hours and was watched by millions of Egyptians and other Arabs. Contrary to the perception around the world that Egypt is inexorably sinking into chaos and intolerance, this debate in many ways reflects the hope for a new Egypt following last year’s revolution.

From the time of Ramses II, the strong pharaoh who ruled Egypt thousands of years ago, until last year when Hosni Mubarak’s reign ended, Egyptians were never able to witness a debate over who should take over the democratic reins in the highest office of the land.…  Seguir leyendo »

Egyptians are going to the polls to elect a democratic parliament, an experience they have not had for over half a century. This is an extraordinary and exhilarating event.

What's remarkable about it, among other things, is that only a week before the plebiscite began, an on-schedule election was thought to be impossible. The media were predicting that a fair election could not be pulled off and that, if voting did occur, it would be bloody and violent. But Egyptians weren't daunted. They remembered how, 10 months ago when the uprising began, many pundits predicted that Hosni Mubarak's regime was too strong for the revolution to succeed.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Where is Egypt going?” a driver named Mohamed asked me recently. It is the question on everyone’s mind as the Arab Spring of popular revolution gives way to the new season of free elections this autumn.

At this unique moment in history, there are two critical challenges that face this nation at the heart of the Arab world. The first is how to further catalyze and consolidate the democratic transition through re-establishing unity among all Egyptians. The second is the related issue of achieving a commitment to peace in the Middle East that is genuinely supported by the Egyptian public.

In the months since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster the road to democracy has been rocky, but the spirit of optimism is still high.…  Seguir leyendo »