US reduces military & economic aid to Egypt

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US reduces military & economic aid to Egypt

Post by newcastle » Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:55 pm

Egypt has expressed its “regret” at a decision by the US to reduce aid allocated to the country, a statement by the country’s foreign ministry on Wednesday read.
The decision to reduce “some components of the economic portion [of US aid]” and to “postpone the disbursement of some military components" reflects a “misjudgement about the nature of strategic relations” which have bound the two countries for two decades, the statement read.

The decision also lacks a correct understanding of “Egypt's stability in light of the economic and security challenges facing the Egyptian people and also and implies a mixing of cards that may have negative repercussions on achieving Egyptian-American common interests" the statement added.
Egypt receives $1.3 billion annually in military aid from the United States and nearly $250 million in economic assistance.

The statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry did not include any details about the amount by which the aid programme to the country would be reduced.

In February, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson promised more aid for Cairo's counter-terrorism efforts and economic development plan during a meeting with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Washington, However, President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal budget for 2018 includes cuts to foreign aid and other diplomatic initiatives, potentially affecting the aid programme to Egypt.

A US Senate hearing in April suggested that Washington reconsider its relationship with Cairo given Egypt's human rights record; Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said that the hearing was held "with the aim of harming the positive ties between Egypt and the US administration."

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent ... t-Egy.aspx

The Senate hearing referred to makes interesting viewing.

phpBB [video]



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Re: US reduces military & economic aid to Egypt

Post by Hafiz » Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:56 am

Very odd, but based on Egyptian reporting.

Its not clear from this report whether this is a final budget decision/White House proposal/minority congressional proposal/piece of final legislation/rumor. It could be a change from a bias on military aid to a more balanced and economically productive package

Trump's approach to the current Egyptian leadership has been positive but its also true that Egypt's involvement in the Yemen War and the anti-ISIS campaign has been insubstantial. Their activity in Libya is not consistent with the western approach and the new Russian military purchases/Russian atomic development/ambiguous relationship with Assad/'activity' in Ethiopia/difficulty in dealing with internal terrorism/difficulties with Saudi/opposition to US conciliation on Qatar/imperfect protection of Christians/alienation from 1 NATO partner (Turkey)/difficulties experienced by US investors in Egypt/purchase of French military hardware/closer relationships with China/previous business relationships with North Korea and many other issues could make US aid problematic.

On the other hand there have been major speeches in the past year by very powerful right-wing US Republican political leaders advocating a Marshall Plan type project for Egypt. But this would have objectives of the economic development of Egypt - rather than just aid to the military.

I'll try and check this report with a newspaper that has track record in clear and honest reporting.

Its not irrelevant at this point in time that the very influential bi-partisan USA Council on Foreign Relations isn't a big fan of current Egyptian arrangements, that current Egyptian economic policies have yet to prove themselves and that there has been extensive US media coverage of Egyptian government and also separate Egyptian Security Service high expenditure in hiring US consultancies to market themselves and lobby US politicians. The Wiki leaks also show deep US diplomatic concerns about and dislike for the Egyptian FM.

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Re: US reduces military & economic aid to Egypt

Post by newcastle » Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:46 am

The Washington Post gives a less shrill report on the aid reduction. I see that the experienced, competent, senior White House advisor Jared Kushner was in Cairo yesterday to smooth a few ruffled feathers.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/na ... b71c71c8b3

The US has long had an ambivalent relationship with Egypt.

They encouraged the free officers in their overthrow of the monarchy and protected the nascent nation over the Suez fiasco. Despite being slapped by Nasser over the dam project, they went on to rescue him in the 6-day war with Israel.

They did the same with Sadat post the 1973 war.

The Mubarak regime wouldn't have lasted 30 years without American backing.

Notwithstanding the, at times tetchy, but generally good relationship between Cairo and Washington. the populace at large is very anti-American. The consistent US backing of Israel is something they can't swallow. But, notwithstanding the anti-American vitriol on the streets and social media, there's hardly an Egyptian who wouldn't sell their mother for a visa to escape to a life in the "great Satan".

Against this background, I tend to view the latest move as little more than cosmetic. As the Senate debate makes clear, the US is under no illusion that their largesse in economic aid is often squandered by a hopelessly inept government. They are also not fooled by the excuses given by the Egyptians for the clampdown on NGO's. The strategy seems to be to keep the current regime stable whilst paying lip-service to US domestic reservations about human rights.

A tad hypocritical when you consider Egypt was the destination of choice for extraordinary rendition.

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Re: US reduces military & economic aid to Egypt

Post by Major Thom » Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:28 am

Everything with money attatched is based on security, have the politicians ever given a thought about the people that put them there that are now living in poverty while they line their pockets with aid money. If I were the US I would stop it completely until it can be proven the money is being used to improve the Country, and not make the rich even more rich.

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Re: US reduces military & economic aid to Egypt

Post by newcastle » Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:22 pm

Egypt may be the newest front in Trump’s battle with North Korea.

This week, the State Department announced it will withhold millions of dollars in aid to Egypt, a long-standing U.S. ally and a major recipient of American security assistance.

Underneath the surface, however, the focus of the move may not be Egypt, but rather North Korea.

Gardiner Harris and Declan Walsh of the New York Times suggest that a key factor in the decision to curtail aid to Cairo is its ongoing relationship with Pyongyang. “Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s top priority has been to increase North Korea’s economic and diplomatic isolation, and he has asked foreign leaders in almost every meeting that they cut ties with Pyongyang,” the reporters explained.

The pressure on Egypt appears to be part of a broader U.S. push to make it clear that North Korea is a problem for the world, not just Washington, Seoul and Tokyo.

Egypt helped intercept a North Korean ship carrying weapons through the Suez Canal last year, but it also was accused of illicitly procuring Scud missile parts from Pyongyang.

Previous U.S. administrations have tried to push nations such as Egypt to end their ties to North Korea. “The U.S. pressuring countries to sever links is part of the constant game of 'whack-a-mole' in trying to shut down sanctions evaders,” said Kent Boydston, an expert on North Korean trade at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wor ... c189356c29

Egypt involved with North Korea.....who'd have thought it :roll:

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Re: US reduces military & economic aid to Egypt

Post by Hafiz » Sat Aug 26, 2017 3:08 am

Newcastle, you might be right about the North Korean connection but I think the recent change is at the very center of middle ground elite US opinion.

Some of the informed, middle-of-the-road US attitudes to US aid to Egypt come from the head of the bi-partisan Council on Foreign Relations, Elliot Abrams. https://www.cfr.org/report/united-state ... ce-egypt-0

Opinions like this seem to be the longer term policy basis of current US ‘freezes’/deferrals on aid.

Missing in all this debate are hard facts, the most important of which is that an old deal has made Egypt the second largest recipient over 2 generations of US military aid in the world – and (I think) near the top of the short list of the biggest beneficiaries of US aid money. It is open to debate whether 2 generations of very large amounts of money (totaling well over $US70 billion) have delivered all the US taxpayer, or the Egyptian citizenry, had hoped for. The US has also intervened at least twice to get IMF/World Bank write offs/deferrals of Egyptian sovereign debt over the last 3 decades.

The cfr article is brief, worth reading, seems moderate and looks to a more positive changed future relationship – based on greater freedom in Egypt.

The Council is the major influence on middle ground Republican and Democrat opinion and they also offer limited free internet access to the world to its journal – which is widely considered the liberal, establishment, gold-standard on foreign policy thinking. They give evidence to Congress and their journal is often cited by western world business and political leaders as a bible.

His point includes the view that the current aid package was set up when Egypt was important in the region. Times have changed on this and the package therefore needs to change. He also has views about the effectiveness of current Egyptian anti-insurgency efforts and Egypt’s assistance to broader Muslim anti-ISIS activity in the region.

Interestingly, he is something of an internationalist with his elite education including study at the LSE.

I know its easy at the moment to regard US politics as in terminal decline but his views illustrate that sensible Republicans still exist (and get their policies adopted).

There is probably no private body in the world with more influence on international relations than the Council so its views are evidence that multi-million dollar Egyptian lobbying budgets to influence elite US opinion have been less than successful. The effectiveness of the advocacy skills and strategy of the FM and of the Egyptian Diplomatic Corps might also be open to question at this time.

The Saudi’s and the Gulf States aren’t going to publicly oppose Council opinions – whose continued support for them they need. I'm not aware of any regional Muslim government which is backing Egyptian opposition to the US aid change - which implies that US aid changes have regional support. Sensible Europeans will probably do the same and not publicly oppose the US change.

Maybe Russia/China/India will step into the aid gap? Maybe the French and their third-rate military hardware could provide a fresh replacement funding option?

The NYT update a day ago on this issue states: ‘Its (Egypt’s) foreign ministry said on Wednesday that the decision to withhold aid reflected "poor judgement" and that it could have "negative implications" on achieving common goals and interests between the two countries.’. https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2017/08 ... ml?mcubz=0.

The Washington Post west further and published: “Egypt reacted angrily, with the Foreign Ministry calling the U.S. decision a “misjudgment of the nature of the strategic relations that have bound the two countries for decades.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/mi ... b9b99a288f.

The recent general position of the Washington Post on Egypt has been neither subtle not positive so the millions of Egypt’s money to win elite US opinion isn’t obviously successful. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dem ... 9a089b7217

The less than subtle FM response does little to redress long held Western international opinion of Egypt’s management of its foreign policy and is in contrast to, for example, Saudi subtlety on matters such as the recent positive/conciliatory US policy on Qatar.

The announcement by Egypt of ‘negative implications’ produces an expectation of imminent Egyptian action to develop new friends. I’ll keep an eye out for early major international announcements/deals/donations but fear that such threats, if not carried out, will not help Egypt’s foreign policy credibility. China or Russia (cash is a bit short) might step in and have no standards on what it expects from victims of its aid ‘gifts’. China’s aggressive agnosticism and its persecution if its large Muslim minority might, however, raise a few local issues – which I’m sure al Ahram will continue to avoid reporting on.

Interestingly the liberal NYT doesn’t attack Trump for his action on this issue – they hate him – but this confirms my view that this new approach had widespread US support – including from liberals – so its going to be around for a while/is a new fixed position.

Missing in the Egyptian media is the reason for US Egypt aid action. Whilst al Ahram uses Reuters on this story it deletes the following Reuters statement: “(the reason for the aid change was) because it (Egypt) had failed to make progress on respecting human rights and democracy.” and “frustration (by the US) with Cairo’s stance on civil liberties. In particular, a new law regulating non-governmental organizations is widely seen as part a growing crackdown on dissent, said the U.S. sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.” https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-e ... KKCN1B42UO.

Media reports from other Muslim countries on this specific matter are very clear on the linkage of US aid cuts/deferrals to local human rights. Here is one of very many examples: https://www.dailysabah.com/mideast/2017 ... s-criteria

There might be light at the end of the corridor for Egypt. Non-political regional experts have for decades speculated that a US Palestine deal might be more saleable to Palestinians if Egypt ceded more Sinai land to a Palestine State (bit difficult in the current Egyptian political environment after the Islands problem). Whilst no US government statement has ever specifically referred to this possible option, Egypt might think that it still has this potential future ace up its sleeve in its dealings with the US whilst the US attempts to solve the Palestine problem.

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