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Monday, March 26, 2012

Clinton grants 'national security' waiver for US aid to Egypt

Egyptian blog Bikya Masr reports that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton granted a 'national security' waiver for US aid to Egypt late on Friday afternoon, when it was least likely to draw a lot of attention (Hat Tip: MFS - The Other News).
Senate Appropriations State and Foreign Ops Subcommittee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was informed by the State Department of the national security waiver on US aid to Egypt. Many here in Washington have started to criticize this decision. Although, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has badly managed the democratic transition, this piece argues, it is important to continue the aid to Egypt.

Of course, the transitional phase lead by SCAF has been disappointing to many observers, including myself. But, I have long argued that SCAF was never capable of leading Egypt towards a democracy. I never thought someone, who was the cornerstone of Mubarak’s authoritarian regime could lead Egypt’s democratic transition. Anyone who was convinced SCAF would, is distanced from the political realities in Egypt.
The blogger goes on to argue in favor of continued aid.
US aid to Egypt is not about support for democracy. US aid to Egypt is about a strategic partnership, connected with the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. The US military has a very deep-rooted and strong relationship with the Egyptian military that transcends the idea of democracy. The US military does get much in return for the relationship it has enjoyed for the past three decades with Egypt.

The debate about cutting aid to Egypt has shown that many people in Washington do not know where this aid goes and do not know what the US gets in return. Most of the tax-payer money goes to the purchase of American weaponry deals, which create many jobs in the United States. American consultants travel to Egypt, and members of the Egyptian military travel to the US on a regular basis. Of course, there are certain individuals within the Egyptian military establishment that may benefit financially from the aid, but most of the financial benefits go to the United States and not Egypt.

Furthermore, most of the military aid to Egypt goes into securing Sinai and the Israeli border. According, to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, Egypt’s military is allowed only a limited amount of military presence in Sinai. The aid to Egypt’s military is to enhance Egyptian military capacity to secure Sinai and the Israeli border. Therefore, cutting the aid to Egypt would jeopardize the already deteriorating security of Sinai. This would be a blow to Israeli national security, a key US ally.

There are many organizations that I greatly respect here in Washington, who are calling for cutting the aid to Egypt. They are disappointed by Clinton’s national security waiver of US aid to Egypt. Their calls are legitimate from a theoretical standpoint. But, from a realistic standpoint, cutting aid would not bring Egypt closer to a democracy. The aid to Egypt has nothing to do with democracy in Egypt, the aid is more of a symbol of a very close strategic military partnership. The question I pose to people who are in favor of cutting aid is: What would cutting aid mean for Egypt? Will it help or hurt Egypt’s path towards democracy?

One thing is for sure. Cutting aid to Egypt would just sever US-Egyptian relations. If the US cut aid to Egypt today, the next Egyptian government in July would inherit a damaged US-Egyptian relationship. Why would you want to penalize the upcoming democratically elected Egyptian administration, by severing relations with the United States. I am a strong believer that strong US-Egyptian relations will help Egypt’s democratic prospects. And cutting aid will have long-term affects on US-Egyptian relations.
I should preface this by saying that I don't believe that the Islamists who won power in Egypt will be any more democratic than the military. If anything, they may be worse.

I'm also not convinced that the Bikya Masr's characterization of the aid is completely correct. While it is true that most of the aid is military, and not economic, I highly doubt that most of it goes to 'secure Sinai' - and if it does, then it really needs to be reevaluated because Sinai has become a lot less secure since Mubarak was deposed a year ago.

What the aid does is to maintain the current regime in power. Whether it's the military or whether the Islamists gain control of the military, it's not going to be democratic, and from all the pronouncements that have been made, it's not likely to keep the treaty with Israel either.

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At 1:50 PM, Blogger Empress Trudy said...

Clinton is hoping American aid will 'pressure', that is, kill Israelis. No more no less.

At 4:46 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

If the Obama/Clinton posse actually wanted Israel to survive as a wildly successful Western country, they would be using that aid to pay for U.S. repo of all the U.S. military equipment provided to Egypt over the past years. All the times these Leftists have "pooh poohed" the complaints of Israel and supporters that the equipment provided to Egypt would be used against Israel... they are not your friend and the conflict of interest promulgated by Israel Start Up Nation people accepting non-consecutive freshly printed deficit cash in exchange for "Green Sustainable New Age" cover to the Obama machine, as it dismantles the U.S.'s existing power production structure is just stunning to watch. It's always interesting to discover that the world is not what you had thought...


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