Executive Director Stephen McInerney Calls on Obama to Withhold Egypt Aid


January 31, 2014

The Working Group on Egypt today called on President Barack Obama to withhold a resumption of U.S. aid to Egypt until important benchmarks on democracy and human rights can be credibly met.

“If the United States fails to take a clear stance against Egypt’s current democratic reversal, and decides to resume suspended aid programs in the face of growing repression,” the working group writes “your policies may reinforce this debilitating dynamic to the detriment of U.S. interests and values.”
Stephen McInerney, Executive Director of the Project on Middle East Democracy and member of the working group, noted that there is a false choice between democracy and stability in Egypt. A short-term strategy that seeks to prioritize a narrow relationship with the Egyptian military only works against long-term U.S. interests as well as those of the Egyptian people.

“The U.S.-Egypt relationship is in desperate need of a serious transformation, and the administration’s next steps will define U.S. priorities in the long term” said McInerney. “On the very few occasions that the United States has used aid to Egypt as leverage, it has been effective.”

The working group recommended that before a certification is made to permit the resumption of U.S. aid to the Egyptian military, the following conditions are met:

  • An end to the broad security and media campaign against those who peacefully oppose the actions of the interim government and military;
  • An end to the use of live ammunition to disperse protesters;
  • The adherence to international human rights treaties to which Egypt is a signatory; and
  • The cessation of media campaigns against the United States and American organizations, which are contributing to an unprecedented level of anti-American sentiment.

The Egypt Working Group is a nonpartisan initiative that seeks to shape an effective U.S. policy response to Egypt’s transition and to press for democratic reform and respect for human rights in Egypt. The letter to President Obama was endorsed by the following members: Robert Kagan (Brookings Institution), Michele Dunne (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), Elliott Abrams (Council on Foreign Relations), Ellen Bork (Foreign Policy Initiative), Daniel Calingaert (Freedom House), Reuel Gerecht (Foundation from Defense of Democracies), Brian Katulis (Center for American Progress), Stephen McInerney from (Project on Middle East Democracy), Neil Hicks (Human Rights First), Peter Mandaville (Ali Vural Ak Center for Islamic Studies), and Tamara Wittes (Brookings Institution).

The Project on Middle East Democracy is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to examining how genuine democracies can develop in the Middle East and how the U.S. can best support that process.