Regimes come and go but the bribes remain the same.
US aid to Egypt is guaranteed by the Camp David Accords and stopping it would be a violation of that treaty, a high-ranking Muslim Brotherhood lawmaker said Sunday.
Essam El-Erian, who also serves as chairman of the Egyptian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said that should aid from Washington be cut, the Brotherhood would consider changing the terms of Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
El-Erian told the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat that the US needs to understand that “what was acceptable before the revolution is no longer,” and that should the aid provisions outlined in the treaty be modified, it could open the door to further changes in the agreement…
Congress has already approved $.1.3 in military aid and $250 million in civilian aid for the current fiscal year. That assistance, however, is conditioned upon Egypt meeting all of its obligations under its peace treaty with Israel. That factor that may help explain the unpopularity of US aid – the treaty is widely unpopular in Egypt, and many see the conditions on US aid as an infringement on the country’s sovereignty.
Obama’s catastrophic new budget calls for maintaining the full $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt next year along with $800 million in bribes — er, I mean, aid — for the rest of the Arab Spring. I’m curious what the Brotherhood’s game is here considering that poll from last week showing 71 percent of Egyptians oppose further U.S. foreign aid to the country. With numbers like that, you would think they’d call for rejecting the money outright, especially when they have the newly ascendant Salafists looking for a parliamentary majority and ready to demagogue them if they accept it. Is it simply a case of the MB signaling to the State Department that it’s willing to be bought off from war with Israel if the price is right? Or is it a subtler move in which the MB expects Congress to cut the aid and wants to use that as a pretext for canceling the Camp David accords? An expert on Egypt at the Naval Postgraduate School told the Christian Science Monitor a few days ago that the Egyptian military junta is now so fantastically unpopular inside the country that they might try to get the aid canceled in hopes of endearing themselves to the America-hating public. Quote:
“They’re trying to provoke [the severing of US aid],” says Robert Springborg, an expert on the Egyptian military at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. “Because they’re desperate and they want to present themselves as popular defenders of the nation. So what better way to do it?”
Furthermore, he argues, “It wouldn’t mean a thing” to Egypt’s military were the aid to stop. “A great bulk of that has gone into the procurement of weapons systems that have not been used, are not likely to be used, and that [Egyptian forces] haven’t been properly trained on.”…
Springborg says Egypt does not properly maintain many of the M1A1 Abrams tanks, does not have all of them in service, and does not regularly train servicemen on them. The F-16s, he says, are “dumbed-down” versions that are “not effective fighting planes.”
That might explain that slo-mo clusterfark over the 19 American NGO workers who were arrested. Could be that the military wanted to pick a fight with the U.S. even if it meant their money being cut, and the Brotherhood seized on it as grounds for dumping the treaty if America followed through. As one Israeli analyst said, “Many suspect a power struggle between the Supreme Military Council and the Muslim Brotherhood; a struggle in which the officers try to show the ‘brothers’ their strength by standing firm against the great and powerful America.” Framing the issue as money = treaty helps the Brotherhood in that power struggle too by making the military leadership ultimately responsible for the much-hated peace with Israel. If not for those dirty American dollars that the shifty generals keep taking, Egypt could once again be the Jew-hating vanguard that it was 45 years ago.
Meanwhile, John McCain is apparently optimistic about relations with the new Egyptian parliament going forward. If memory serves, he was optimistic about the new Libyan government too. How’s that working out?