US aid cut to Egypt possibly endangers relations: experts



Wed, 23 Aug 2017 - 02:17 GMT


Wed, 23 Aug 2017 - 02:17 GMT

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and US President Donald Trump shake hands in the Oval Office before a meeting at the White House - AFP/Brendan Smialow

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and US President Donald Trump shake hands in the Oval Office before a meeting at the White House - AFP/Brendan Smialow

CAIRO – 23 August 2017: After tensions in previous years, Egyptian-American relations witnessed a significant boost through the recent period, particularly since the inauguration of United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump; however this seems insufficient still to maintain the stability of the American assistance to Egypt.

During the mutual procedures taken by both sides to strengthen their relations, members of the U.S. Congress were showing hostile stances against Egypt by pushing for cutting assistance.

On Tuesday evening, the U.S. decided to reduce $290 million of aid allocated to Egypt, justifying the decision by stating that Egypt has failed to progress in the field of human rights, referring to the recently approved non-governmental organization (NGO) law which restricts civil society, media outlets reported.

This is not the first time the U.S. takes any decision regarding the aid due to internal affairs, as in 2013, the former U.S. President Barak Obama suspended military and economic assistance to the Egyptian government in rejection to the ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, and later reissued it in 2015.

In a statement released by Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the decision is a “misjudgment” that could have negative implications on common interests and reflects the lack of understanding of the importance of supporting the stability and success of Egypt.

The statement also said that it underestimates the size of economic and security challenges facing the Egyptian people, and implies a mixing of cards that may have negative repercussions on achieving Egyptian-American interests.

Political Science Professor Tarek Fahmy, said that, currently relations with the U.S. are good, but there are also hostile stances in other U.S. institutions towards Egypt, which imply that the decision is not solely in Trump’s hands.

“Egypt did not fulfill all the conditions required for receiving full aid, therefore it has to reconsider its calculations, and take a strong stance regard this action,” Tarek noted, adding that the U.S.’ decision to reduce aid was not only applied in Egypt, but also in other countries such as Israel and Jordan.

The expert also added that there is a misunderstanding regarding Egyptian circumstances that is circulating in the U.S. administration, explaining that it was clearly seen in the U.S. Secretary of State’s reports about Egypt which are always referring to violations reported by unofficial sources.

Also commenting on the U.S.’ decision, Parliament Member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Tarek el-Khouly said that “Egyptians will no longer accept the American attitude of using aid to pressure Egypt in any regard as Egypt was able to resist the suspension during the administration of Obama.”

“The U.S. uses narrations of human rights issues to continue interference in Egypt’s issues, and with ignorance to what Egypt is undertaking to confront terrorism,” he added, asserting that the U.S.’ decision contradicts U.S. calls to fight terrorism, and will impact American interests.

Similarly in May, the U.S. administration decided to reduce economic aid to Egypt down to $112 million instead of $150, and the decision was awaiting Congress approval.
The reduction came amid economic reform procedures in Egypt that required changing the pricing of products and the application of value added taxes.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was the first Arab president to congratulate Trump for his inauguration, and has visited the U.S. in April for talks on ways of enhancing the relations in various fields.



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