Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, July 02, 2007

Egyptians react to proposed U.S. legislation to withhold a portion of military aid

According to Al-Ahram Weekly, Egyptian citizens and think-tankers alike have expressed the need for Egypt to find a way to do without U.S. aid, while government officials are upset by the “flagrant conditionality” of the aid package and hope the administration intervenes and prevents the bill from passing.

The annual U.S. aid package consists of $1.3 billion in military aid and $415 million in economic assistance. The legislation, which was approved by a Senate appropriations subcommittee last week, would withhold $200 million of the military aid package pending an improvement in Egypt’s human rights performance and observance of democratic values.

“We want to get rid of this aid from the US. Why do we have to have aid… because [state officials] have to make commissions [off aid projects] and to use the aid money to have new expensive cars,” said Ayoub, an Egyptian taxi driver.

Several commentators also argued that Egypt should do without U.S. aid because the net interest that Egypt gains out of the two packages of aid is not worth the political demands that are being continuously put forth. The aid has served a good purpose, but the time has come for Cairo to break free from the conditions involved, they said.

Egyptian officials say they are aware that there is no such thing as free aid but think that the exchange of aid and policies should not be conducted in such an “offending manner.” Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit qualified the bill as “unacceptable interference in Egypt’s affairs,” according to a press release circulated by his office. The same message was conveyed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other senior U.S. officials, who informed Egyptian sources suggest responded with reassurance.

“We were told that the administration is not supporting this bill and that it will do what it can to support the solid friendship between Egypt and the US,” one source said.

“We are going to watch how things will unfold during the next few months. We will monitor what the US administration will do to defend Egypt's interests in Congress,” commented another Egyptian official who asked for his name to be withheld.

For the full article, click here.


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