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Monday, 20 February 2012

Cutting US aid to Egypt? Think again...

Cutting US aid to Egypt? Think again... 

The multi-month row between the US and Egypt’s military junta has reached serious levels in recent weeks, as top US officials have openly threatened to revoke all aid from the junta to punish it for charging Americans with illegally peddling political influence ahead of the parliamentary elections.

Because Egypt is one of the top recipients of US aid, American threats to revoke the aid were seen by many as something too big for Egypt to resist. But comments from one of the top MPs in the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) suggest Egypt isn’t going to take this lying down.

MP Essam El-Erian, the chairman of Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Committee, pointed out that the US aid wasn’t just a “no-strings attached” gift by the administration, but a required US contribution under the terms of the 1979 Camp David Accords.

Revoking the aid, then, would be a negation of that treaty, and would have the parliament pushing for a renegotiation of some of the more onerous terms.
Which would not only be a major loss for the US, but would be a political gain for the FJP. Many Egyptians have been irked by that treaty’s restrictions, and recent polls also show a strong majority who don’t want to receive aid from the US in the first place, particularly given the US attempts to meddle in their political process.

What started as a few raids against a few US-funded NGOs looks like a full-scale diplomatic split now, and the dramatic US overreaction may give Egypt’s new power brokers the excuse they need to revisit the terms of their treaty with the US and Israel.
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