In an August 13, 2018 piece for Reuters Opinion, “Commentary: Five myths about U.S. aid to Egypt,” POMED’s Deputy Director for Policy Andrew Miller takes on five pervasive myths affecting U.S. foreign policy toward Egypt.
August 14 marks the fifth anniversary of the massacre at Cairo’s Rabaa and Nahda Squares, in which Egyptian security forces killed at least 800 supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi and injured thousands more. The Obama administration responded by reviewing military assistance to Egypt and withholding delivery of fighter jets, attack helicopters, tanks, and missiles. Yet Barack Obama eventually yielded to Egyptian complaints and lifted the arms holds, despite the growing repression of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi – minister of defense at the time of the killings – in order “to address the shared challenges to U.S. and Egyptian interests in an unstable region.”
Five years later, the Trump administration has backed down in its own military aid standoff with Egypt. Last August, amid concerns over Egyptian cooperation with North Korea and Sisi’s crackdown against civil society, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson froze $195 million in military assistance to Cairo. He conditioned its release on Egypt’s meeting three requirements: ending military and diplomatic cooperation with North Korea; resolving the case of 43 staff of American and German democracy NGOs convicted in 2013 on trumped-up charges; and repealing or amending a repressive law regulating the work of NGOs. On July 25, the Trump administration relented, announcing that it was releasing the suspended aid, despite the fact that Sisi’s government has not fully met even one of the U.S. conditions. The State Department justified the decision, saying, “strengthened security cooperation is important to U.S. national security.”
What explains why the Obama and Trump administrations — so divergent on U.S. foreign policy — share an unwillingness to sustain pressure on an increasingly authoritarian Egyptian government?
Read the full article here.
Photo: Egyptian Armed Forces/Ministry of Defense