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Cairo Review of Global Affairs: Freezing Aid without a Strategy

Author: Jonathan Guyer
October 11, 2013

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"Beltway analysts draw the same conclusion: U.S. aid has not bought leverage over Egypt. Their argument is that cutting aid is futile and actually detracts from U.S. interests. It's quite a tautology. Since American assistance doesn't buy leverage, Washington should keep the aid flowing. If we agree that American assistance doesn't do much, then why continue it?"

In early July, Apache helicopters roamed low above Cairo, an expression of force following the military's overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi. Early this month, sixteen F16s flew in formation over the city, practicing for the commemoration of the October 1973 war. Since Morsi's ouster, U.S. military hardware has been a stark feature of Cairo's skyline. But American policy—the reason for that military aid to Egypt—remains ambiguous.

This week Washington announced a downgrading of aid to Cairo, which flows annually to the tune of $1.3 billion. The U.S. will withhold $260 million in cash funding and halt deliveries of military hardware, as part of a
"recalibration" overseen by President Barack Obama. Despite the cuts, most security cooperation persists. In a conference call with journalists on October 9, a senior U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said that Washington would "continue assistance that advances our vital security objectives like countering terrorism, countering proliferation, and ensuring security in the Sinai. We will also continue support like military training and education, and will continue spare parts, replacement parts, and related services for the military equipment that we provide." The freezing of aid was merely a symbolic gesture, and another example that the Obama administration's Egypt policy is missing in action.

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