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US Threatens to Cut Aid to Egypt

The White House says aid to Egypt is being “reviewed.” Former US officials press Obama to cut military assistance but face strong Egyptian lobby.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 1/30/2011, 9:12 AM / Last Update: 1/30/2011, 9:03 AM

Responding five days after the unprecedented protest rallies in Egypt, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that Obama administration threatened to review and cut military aid to Egypt, which has totaled $28 billion since 1975.

After it signed peace accords with Israel, Egypt became the largest recipient of U.S. aid in the Middle East, except for Israel, and annual military aid of nearly $1.5 billion includes F-4 jet aircraft, F-16 jet fighters, armored personnel carriers, Apache helicopters, antiaircraft missile batteries, and aerial surveillance aircraft.

The threat of a cut in aid to Cairo comes as President Barack Obama called on Hosni Mubarak to halt the violence in Egypt, where more than 100 opponents to the regime have been killed and thousands injured.


Former Democratic and Republican party officials presented the president with a demand to cut aid to Egypt. “We are paying the price for the fact that the administration has been at least of two minds on this stuff, and we should have seen it coming,” said Robert Kagan, co-chair of the bipartisan Egypt working group.

“I think Mubarak has a week at most left in office,” Andrew Albertson, formerly with the Project on Middle East Democracy and the working group, told Politico Saturday. “He’s ultimately done. Either he flees fast, or there’s a transition to [newly appointed Vice President Omar] Suleiman, or the protests continue. Meanwhile, people are becoming incredibly angry with the United States.”

Officials in the Obama administration reportedly are at odds with themselves, arguing between maintaining a “cautious” policy and stating in public that Mubarak must resign.

Cutting the annual $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt will not be easy. Cairo pays $1.1 million a year to lobbyists to “provide assistance and advice, as requested, to the Embassy in the task of securing and further enhancing the interests of Egypt in the United States in the political, economic, military and other fields.” according to their contract, quoted by the Atlantic.

Military assistance also is a high priority item in the military-industrial complex in the United States, affecting employment and the balance of payments.