Daily Israel Report
Show More

OpEds


Obama Fails to Purchase Egypt's Elections

US president Barack Obama poured $200M into Egypt's liberal and secular parties only to see them decimated on election day.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 12/7/2011, 7:11 PM

Americans can be thankful President Barack Obama never pursued a career as an investment banker.

The Obama administration spent some $200 million backing liberal and pro-Western political parties in Egypt's elections.

But with 65 percent of the vote going to Islamist parties - including the Muslim Brotherhood – it looks like a poor investment.

According to Campaigns & Elections magazine the money was funneled into Egyptian politics through the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute.

Stephen McInerney, executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy, told C&E the focus of the monies - officially ear-marked for "infrastructure development” – was primarily spent on helping smaller political parties compete against the better organized Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s party.

The first round of Parliamentary elections in Egypt this week saw voting in nine of the country’s 27 provinces. The staggered elections will continue over the coming months.

The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party – whose leadership advocates implementing Sharia Law – won 40 percent of the vote on Wednesday. An additional 15 percent went to hard-line Salafi Islamists.

In addition to an utter failure to organize Egypt's moderate and secular parties into a meaningful force at the polls, Obama's left-handed funding of foreign political parties outside the United States has fueled an underlying anti-American sentiment and accusations of US “meddling” on the banks of the Nile.

Amid the Islamist electoral avalanche, Egypt's military ruler has sworn in a new government that he says will have more powers than its predecessor. Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi promised to transfer some of his ruling military council's executive powers to Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri.

The interim junta did not go into specifics on what new powers the Cabinet will have, but said only that it will continue to control the judiciary and the armed forces. Egypt's generals have been tightly in control of managing the country's affairs since Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February, infuriating critics who accuse them of maintaining the status quo – and demand civilian rule.

The interim junta has sought to maintain the geopolitical status quo - including the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty - as a means of protecting the billions of US foreign aid dollars that have turned Egypt into a regional power-player.

The Obama administration's meddling in the domestic politics of foreign countries is not limited to Egypt. USAID dollars under Obama have been routinely routed into NGO's in Israel that pursue political agendas – raising the specter of sanitized US government monies potentially finding their way into Israel's elections as well.