What kind of arms have we been sending them, anyway?
According to the State Department, the aid has included fighter jets, tanks, armored personnel carriers, attack helicopters, anti-aircraft missiles, and surveillance aircraft. In the past, the Egyptian government has bought some of the weapons on credit.
Does the coup and subsequent military crackdown change any of this?
The Foreign Assistance Act mandates that the U.S. cut aid to any country “whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.” But the White House has avoided calling the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who was democratically elected last year, a coup.
As the Washington Post‘s Max Fisher points out, Obama and his predecessors have dealt this kind of thing before. The president cut some aid to Honduras after a coup in 2009 and to Mali and the Central African Republic after coups there in 2012, but not all of it. And those countries aren’t nearly as important to U.S. foreign policy as Egypt. President Bill Clinton cut some aid to Pakistan after a coup there in 1999, but President George W. Bush reinstated all of it after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Obama’s refusal to call it a coup has infuriated Morsi supporters. “What is a coup?” Wael Haddara, a senior advisor to Morsi, told the New York Times. “We’re going to get into some really Orwellian stuff here.”
What about economic aid and efforts to promote democracy?
U.S. economic aid to Egypt has slumped from $815 million in 1998 to about $250 million in 2011.
The various economic aid efforts have had mixed results. The State Department has described the Commodity Import Program, which gave Egypt millions of dollars between 1986 and 2008 to import American goods, as “one of the largest and most popular USAID programs.” But an audit of the four-year, $57 million effort to create agricultural jobs and boost rural incomes in 2007 found that the program “has not increased the number of jobs as planned.” And an audit of a $151 million program to modernize Egypt’s real estate finance market in 2009 found that, while the market had improved since the program began, the growth was “not clearly measureable or attributable” to the aid efforts.
The U.S. has also funded programs to promote democracy and good government in Egypt — again with few results. It has sent about $24 million a year between 1999 and 2009 to a variety of NGOs in the country. According to a 2009 inspector general’s audit, the efforts didn’t add much due to “a lack of support” from the Egyptian government, which “suspended the activities of many U.S. NGOs because Egyptian officials thought these organizations were too aggressive.”
A recent audit of the European Union’s €1 billion — about $1.35 billion — aid program found that it had been “well-intentioned but ineffective” in promoting good governance and human rights. And a WikiLeaks cable revealed the Egyptian government had asked USAID in 2008 to stop financing NGOs that weren’t properly registered.
Photo: An Egyptian Army M113 Armored Personnel Carrier lead convoy of Royal Jordan Army Vehicles offloading from a US Navy (USN) Landing Craft Utility (LCU-1630) craft assigned to Assault Craft Unit One (ACU-1), on the beach at Mubarek Military City, Egypt, in preparation for an amphibious assault landing demonstration in support of Exercise BRIGHT STAR 2005. (JO1 Kurt Wesseling, USN/Wikimedia Commons)
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