WASHINGTON D.C. – The military coup in Egypt prompted the United States to put a freeze on funds sent to Egypt last year. Congress is now in the process of resuming foreign aid to Egypt. The U.S. spending bill for 2014 allots $1.5 billion to the Egyptian government and military.
Egypt will receive $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million worth of economic assistance once the bill is signed. The military aid may be dispersed in two installments. Egypt could receive the first $975 million after its constitutional referendum and the remaining $576.8 million once the presidential and parliamentary elections finish.
Aid to Egypt is not without conditions. Senior senators have seen to it that the Egyptian government is not allowed aid until it agrees to democratic transition and respecting rule of law.
Section 7008 of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Law clearly states that governments resulting from coups will not be given U.S. aid.
The spending bill makes key changes to how U.S. aid is distributed to Egypt. Aid sent to Egypt is less restricted under the bill. The bill nullifies laws prohibiting U.S. funding of foreign militaries that have staged coups in opposition to democratically elected governments.
The foreign aid modifications simplify the administration of aid to the military-ruled Egypt.
Conditions that block foreign aid to Egypt can either be removed by congress lifting them or the Obama administration waiving them.
Democracy in Egypt
Egypt appears to be headed in the opposite direction of what the senior senators insist upon. The third constitutional referendum in three years successfully passed despite the constitution’s authoritarian tone. The military-led government is also cracking down on the opposition.
The actions taken in Egypt by the new leadership would suggest that establishing democratic norms are not a top priority. Egypt seems to be reverting to authoritarianism.
The quest for democracy has been a long road for Egyptians since the Arab Spring first began. Mohammed Morsi was Egypt’s first democratically elected president and a military coup removed him from power.
The new constitution gives validation to the military regime as well as power and immunity to the military and law enforcement. Voters went to the polls and 98.1 percent voted in favor of the new constitution.
The majority of the over 20 million voters approved of the new constitution. While the constitution appears to be authoritarian rather than democratic, the high support was expected. Major political factions did not rally for opposition against the new constitution. Egyptians who voted in favor of the constitution believed it was necessary to finally stabilize the nation.
Voter turnout was quite low for the amount of registered voters. Only 38.6 percent of registered voters actually cast a vote, but it is a large improvement compared to the turnout from 2012.
A couple known factors played a role in the low voter turnout. Certain revolutionary groups boycotted participation while few youths voted due to university exams.
What advantage does the U.S. get from sending Egypt aid? Steven A. Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations writes that Washington must know what it wants and reach an understanding with Egypt about their future in bilateral relations.
Cook reveals that foreign aid to Egypt allows the U.S. to maintain its security interests in the region. The U.S. will have access to Egyptian airspace and logistical support. It will also be able to use the Suez Canal for quicker transport. Efforts to build peace between Egypt and Israel can be better brokered by the U.S. through its bilateral relations with both Egypt and Israel.
– Brittany Mannings