US Considering Long Overdue Move of Withholding Most Military Aid To Egypt


Credit: Aschevogel / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The Obama administration is reportedly considering the suspension military aid to Egypt while exempting assistance that supports counter-terrorism activities and the defense of Israel.

From Reuters:

(Reuters)—The United States is leaning toward withholding most military aid to Egypt except to promote counter-terrorism, security in the Sinai Peninsula that borders Israel, and other such priorities, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.

The official said U.S. President Barack Obama had not made a final decision on the issue, which has vexed U.S. officials as they balance a desire to be seen promoting democracy and rights with a desire to keep up some cooperation with Egypt's military.

After the military overthrew President Morsi last July there were calls for the U.S. to cut off aid to Egypt. Last August, Obama announced that joint military exercises were being canceled and it was reported that the U.S. was reviewing $585 million worth of unspent aid to Egypt.

The Obama administration has cut off some aid to countries where military coups have occurred before, such as Mali and Honduras. However, the Obama administration did not describe the removal of Morsi by the military as a coup, as doing so would require military aid to be suspended.

Since Morsi's overthrow the interim military-backed government has clashed with supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, on numerous occasions, and has even to go as far as to ban the party. Last August, over 1,000 people were killed in the violence sparked by Egyptian security forces who moved in to displace pro-Morsi supporters from a protest camp they had set up in Cairo. More recently, dozens were killed in clashes between pro-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators and security forces over the weekend.

Today it was reported that Morsi's trial will begin on November 4. He is accused of inciting the murder of his opponents. 

If the Obama administration does withhold military aid to Egypt it will be a long overdue move. The ongoing military support to a range of regimes in Egypt encourages anti-American sentiment across the political spectrum in Egypt and highlights the Obama administration's selective moral outrage.

The suspension of military aid to Egypt would not just be a wise foreign policy decision. Given the ongoing fiscal fiasco being played out in Washington D.C., it would also be a wise economic move.