Did Obama “secretly” cut aid to Egypt?
posted at 8:41 am on August 20, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
After weeks of enduring criticism over continued aid to Egypt, did Barack Obama have it frozen all along? According to an exclusive from The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin, aid to Egypt stopped being transmitted shortly after the coup, but it’s not exactly overdue either:
The U.S. government has decided privately to act as if the military takeover of Egypt was a coup, temporarily suspending most forms of military aid, despite deciding not to announce publicly a coup determination one way or the other, according to a leading U.S. senator.
In the latest example of its poorly understood Egypt policy, the Obama administration has decided to temporarily suspend the disbursement of most direct military aid, the delivery of weapons to the Egyptian military, and some forms of economic aid to the Egyptian government while it conducts a broad review of the relationship. The administration won’t publicly acknowledge all aspects of the aid suspension and maintains its rhetorical line that no official coup determination has been made, but behind the scenes, extensive measures to treat the military takeover of Egypt last month as a coup are being implemented on a temporary basis.
The office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the head of the appropriations state and foreign-operations subcommittee, told The Daily Beast on Monday that military aid to Egypt has been temporarily cut off.
Leahy’s “understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law,” said David Carle, a spokesman for Leahy.
Technically, though, it’s not cut off so much as it is not in transit. The next installment of cash isn’t due until the end of September. Until then, the $585 million will sit in American accounts, pending the administration’s determination.
So far, they have avoided making any determination, however. The White House has decided to refrain from calling the July 3 takeover by the military a coup, but act as though it was by preventing (temporarily, at least) the transmission of aid. The only analogy that comes to mind here is not eating your cake and then not having it, too. It’s the refusal to publicly acknowledge the obvious about the coup that has damaged American credibility, and the only reason for that policy to exist is to continue aid to the military so that the treaty with Israel is safeguarded. Only now we discover that we’re cutting off aid anyway … which means we get to alienate everyone.
This must be the smart power about which we hear so much. The only good reason to talk about this is as a warning to Egypt’s new military government that the White House is serious about cutting off aid. Calling a coup a coup works pretty well, too, and would certainly clarify matters, too.
Is Egypt’s interim government getting the message? How is the coup that’s not a coup but we’re treating it like a coup because hopenchange going anyway? Military leader General Abdel Fatah al-Sissi insisted yesterday that the nation had enough room for the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists. The army then hauled off Mohammed Badie, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood:
Security forces arrested the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood on Monday night, in an escalating showdown with the influential Islamist movement that has led to the ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected president and some of the bloodiest urban violence in its modern history.
Mohammed Badie, a white-bearded professor, was shown on state television being whisked away to prison in a car, sitting next to a security officer in a bulletproof vest. His arrest, as well as those of other Muslim Brotherhood leaders, had been ordered after last month’s coup.
Badie’s detention was the latest in a rapidly unfolding series of events that seemed certain to outrage beleaguered Brotherhood supporters and intensify the crisis in the Arab world’s most populous nation.
The timing is certainly … interesting:
Earlier Monday, an Egyptian court granted bond to the country’s former autocratic ruler, Hosni Mubarak, raising the prospect that he could be released from jail within days. Mubarak, 85, has been in poor health, and he still faces a host of legal problems, including a new trial related to the deaths of protesters in the 2011 revolt that ended his three-decade rule as president.
But his release would heighten suspicions that his former military-backed regime has returned to power after the armed forces deposed Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president, on July 3.
Don’t expect Egyptians to draw any other conclusions from this juxtaposition, either. On the other hand, as McClatchy reports, maybe they won’t mind after watching the Muslim Brotherhood in power.