US to cut aid to Egypt?
posted at 10:41 am on October 9, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Well, maybe. CNN reported late yesterday that the Obama administration would stop all aid this week, a report which was immediately denied by the White House — but they did tell Reuters and others that new policies on aid would be announced this week. Today, the Washington Post reports that the aid pressure will be more nuanced:
The Obama administration will announce curbs on a significant part of nonessential military aid to Egypt within a few days, U.S. officials said Tuesday, marking a shift in America’s relations with one of its key Arab allies.
Officials would not provide figures about how much of the annual $1.2 billion in military aid would be withheld, but they said the primary focus will be a hold on the shipment of a dozen AH-64D Apache helicopters from an order placed four years ago.
Provision of crucial spare parts for the extensive U.S. military equipment that Egypt already has and training for the country’s armed forces will continue, officials said. They said aid that supports counterterrorism initiatives and Egypt’s relations with Israel, including security efforts in the Sinai Peninsula and monitoring along the border with the Gaza Strip, would also continue.
U.S. officials described the decision — which comes three months after a military coup toppled Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president — on the condition of anonymity. Neither Congress nor Egyptian officials have been notified of the decision, and the announcement could be postponed.
The last time the Obama administration made an issue of the coup, 638 Egyptians died in eruptions of violence in mid-August. The coup itself took place more than three months ago. The White House had come under pressure to acknowledge the coup initially and cut off aid, but no one has talked about it since. more than a month ago, the Washington Post editorial board lamented the fact that Obama had lost focus on Egypt.
What’s the point now of stirring the pot? The military coup may have angered the West and the Muslim Brotherhood, but Egyptians appear to have adjusted back to military rule, for better or worse. In the present climate, the West hardly needs to compound its failed policy of pressuring the army to hold quick elections, and this time the army seems disinclined to comply anyway.
In fact, they seem ready to double down:
Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi will go on trial on Nov. 4 on charges of incitement to the killing of opponents while he was in office, an Egyptian court announced Wednesday.
Morsi was ousted in a popularly-backed coup on July 3 and has been held incommunicado at an unknown location and has not been seen since, though he has spoken to his family twice and was visited by EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and an African Union delegation.
According to Wednesday’s court decision, the 62-year old Morsi will be tried before a criminal court for allegedly inciting his supporters to kill at least 10 people, use violence and unlawfully detain and torture anti-Morsi protesters.
Fourteen other members of the Muslim Brotherhood will be tried along with Morsi, including top aides and leading members of the group.
When elections do come, the man at the top of the coup may try his hand in electoral politics — or at least that’s what some fear:
Egypt’s army chief, who orchestrated the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July, should not run for the leadership in elections due to be held next year, the head of the biggest liberal party told Reuters.
General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said in an interview with an Egyptian newspaper that now was the wrong time to raise the issue of whether he would stand for the presidency.
But he did not rule out taking part in any contest, and speculation has been rising that the former military intelligence officer under toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak could contest the vote.
“I don’t think this is advisable and I don’t think it would be a good thing for Sisi and the country that Sisi runs for the presidency,” said Sayed El-Masry, head of the Al Dostour Party which is a major part of the country’s main leftist and liberal coalition, the National Salvation Front.
“He is doing the country the best favor he can do from his position as a military chief,” Masry said in an interview. “Sisi’s nomination will give the wrong image to the world that what happened was a coup.”
Besides, why shift away from the real power in the country?