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Friday, October 28, 2016

U.S. Reviews Aid To Egypt But Admits ‘Limited’ Influence

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States renewed calls Monday for Egypt’s military rulers to pursue reconciliation with their political foes but acknowledged Washington only had “limited” influence over events in the Arab state.

While President Barack Obama’s administration said it was reviewing all aid to Egypt in the aftermath of a violent crackdown against protesters backing ousted president Mohamed Morsi, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel warned against over-estimating Washington’s leverage with Cairo.

“The interim government of Egypt must get back to an inclusive approach to reconciliation in Egypt,” Hagel said during a joint news conference at the Pentagon with his Chinese counterpart, General Chang Wanquan.

But he said Egypt was a sovereign country and that Washington had only a modest ability to shape the political situation.

“Our ability to influence the outcome in Egypt is limited,” Hagel said. “It’s up to the Egyptian people. And they are a large, great, sovereign nation.”

Hagel has had more than 15 phone conversations with Egypt’s army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, since the officer led a coup against Morsi, the country’s first elected president.

But Hagel and other top U.S. officials have failed to persuade military forces from firing on Morsi loyalists in the streets, with more than 800 killed in the brutal crackdown.

Due to the violence in Egypt, Obama last week announced the United States had canceled a joint military exercise with Egypt scheduled for next month. And the Pentagon has postponed the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets for Egypt.

But the Obama administration has chosen to maintain the flow of U.S. military aid, which comes to $1.3 billion a year.

Asked why the United States did not cut off all assistance as some lawmakers have urged, Hagel said Washington had “serious interests” in the region, including efforts to secure an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

As Hagel and the White House reiterated that U.S. assistance to Egypt was under review, a U.S. official said the administration was weighing whether to postpone the delivery of other military hardware, including Apache helicopters and M1A1 Abrams tanks.

“That’s being considered,” the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The New York Times reported the U.S. government also might withhold transferring some financial aid to signal Washington’s displeasure.

“It would be inaccurate to say that there’s been a policy decision to ‘stall’ the remaining money, as no additional policy decisions have been made at this point,” said another U.S. official, who asked not to be named.

“In terms of timing, appropriated funds are obligated and expended on a rolling basis through the year.”

Since the 1979 peace accord between Israel and Egypt, the United States has provided billions in military aid to Cairo while in return securing access to the country’s airspace and special privileges for U.S. naval ships passing through the strategic Suez Canal.

At the White House, officials declined to comment on indications that former president Hosni Mubarak could soon be released soon if all corruption charges against him are dropped, but also condemned the detention of Morsi.

“The legal proceedings against former president Mubarak are something that’s ongoing inside of Egypt. That is an Egyptian legal matter and something that I’ll leave for them to determine,” said Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman.

But he added, “politically motivated detentions inside Egypt should end, and that certainly would include the politically motivated detention of former President Morsi.”

With no sign of the street violence receding, Hagel said the U.S. government was working closely with security forces there to ensure the safety of its diplomats and other Americans in Egypt.

“Protection of Americans in Egypt, not just only our diplomats but all Americans, is of the highest priority,” he said.

The attacks on pro-Morsi protesters have prompted international condemnation, with Western states threatening to cut off aid.

Morsi backers have vowed new demonstrations and Sisi, the army chief, promised a “forceful” response to any violence from protesters.

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • Dominick Vila

    I am in favor of stopping all foreign and military aid to ALL countries, except those affected by major natural disasters, famine or disease, but if the goal is to punish Egypt for their return of totalitarian rule discontinuing our foreign aid will lead nowhere. The Eu was already informed by Saudi Arabia that if they stop aid to Egypt the Saudis will pick up the tab. The same will happen if we do it. $1.5B is a lot of money, but for the Saudis it is pocket change.

    • Independent1

      Dominick, it’s very rare that I don’t agree with you, but stopping foreign aid is one time I must disagree. I’m having a bit of trouble locating the projections I had read earlier but I know sometime back I read an article where a group had done a study on foreign aid and projected that America was repaid by about $4 in economic value for each $1 of foreign aid we provide. The study was very similar to that done which estimates that America receives $7 in value back for each $1 it spends toward educating an individual.

      Here are some excerpts from a very recent story on John Kerry supporting continuing foreign aid:

      Kerry argued that foreign aid need not mean poorer nations being permanent dependents of the U.S. taxpayer. “Eleven of our top 15 trading partners used to be the beneficiaries of U.S. foreign assistance,” he said. “That’s because our goal isn’t to keep a nation dependent on us forever. It’s precisely to create these markets, to open these opportunities, to establish rule of law. Our goal is to use assistance and development to help nations realize their own potential … and become our economic partners.”

      Kerry said that not spending U.S. taxpayer dollars on foreign aid and diplomacy would leave a vacuum that would “quickly be filled by those whose interests differ dramatically from ours. We learned that lesson in the deserts of Mali recently, in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2001, and in the tribal areas of Pakistan even today.”

      And some thoughts from NewsMedical:

      “The truth is, working to alleviate poverty, illiteracy and crippling illness is an essential building block for stable families and societies — and the more stable societies are, the less likely they are to succumb to extremism and terrorism,” Woo writes, adding, “From an economic perspective, … [t]he fastest-growing markets are in the developing world, where half of our exports already go.” She continues, “As our leaders in Washington work to resolve the fiscal questions before us, I encourage them to consider how effective and efficient our diplomatic and development programs are. For a tiny fraction of our budget, our international affairs programs strengthen our security and economy, and demonstrate America’s values” (1/30).