Debate over U.S. Aid to Egypt Continues
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, expressed concerns and raised a number of questions regarding the Administration’s intent to provide $450 million Egyptian government. “In the wake of the breach of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the nature of the Egyptian response,” the letter states, “we are very concerned with respect to the overall direction of the transition on Egypt.” Chairman Ros-Lehtinen’s letter also asks the Administration numerous questions about its current policy on Egypt with regard to democracy assistance, protection of minority communities, and human rights.
A day before the release of the letter, the American Egyptian Strategic Alliance (AESA), an organization aimed at shaping U.S. policies towards Egypt, launched an advocacy campaign urging the hold on aid to Egypt to be lifted. In a press release, AESA said it “believes it is important that the U.S. stands firm in protecting our national security interests by fully supporting the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people,” concluding “the $450 million USD is desperately needed by Egypt to help its people.”
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin wonders if it’s time to withhold aid to Egypt. “Not only do we not have a firm handle on what sort of regime Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is setting up, but once we release the $450 million in aid, what influence do we have? At the very least, it seems a large portion of the aid should be deferred until such time as we spell out to Morsi what behavior we expect from a top aid recipient and what will chill the relationship and cut the purse strings,” Rubin writes. However, an op-ed written in the Dallas Morning News defended aid to Egypt, stating “However challenged the U.S.-Egypt relationship might be today, it only grows worse if the U.S. loses its primary leverage point with the Morsi government. It does American interests no good to push Morsi into the arms of other nations willing to offer cash for influence.”