The Obama administration notified Congress on Friday that it would provide Egypt’s new government an emergency cash infusion of $450 million, but the aid immediately encountered resistance from a prominent lawmaker wary of foreign aid and Egypt’s new course under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The aid is part of the $1 billion in assistance that the Obama administration has pledged to Egypt to bolster its transition to democracy after the overthrow last year of the former president, Hosni Mubarak. Its fate, however, was clouded by concerns over the new government’s policies and, more recently, the protests that damaged the American Embassy in Cairo.
The United States Agency for International Development notified Congress of the cash infusion on Friday morning during the pre-election recess, promptly igniting a smoldering debate over foreign aid and the administration’s handling of crises in the Islamic world.
An influential Republican lawmaker, Representative Kay Granger of Texas, immediately announced that she would use her position as chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee overseeing foreign aid to block the distribution of the money. She said the American relationship with Egypt “has never been under more scrutiny” than it is in the wake of the election of President Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“I am not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance and I cannot support it at this time,” Ms. Granger said in a statement that her office issued even before the administration announced the package.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking at a meeting of the Group of 8 nations in New York, said on Friday that the world needed to do more to support the governments that have emerged from the Arab Spring uprisings, including those in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
Clinton announced the new aid package before meeting with visiting Syrian dissidents on the margins of this week’s U.N. General Assembly, where world leaders sounded bleaker than ever about the prospects for a negotiated political resolution to the 18-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
U.S. humanitarian aid for Syria now will total more than $132 million this year, though Syrian rebels are more interested in weapons and military training than in the American promises of more “nonlethal assistance.” Of the $45 million pledged Friday, $30 million is earmarked for humanitarian assistance and $15 million for radios, training and other technical support for opposition activists.
While we reflect on the 11th anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks on American soil, there is a blinding light that may obscure our view: this sworn enemy now fights hand in hand with the US against the Syrian regime.
The historic State of the Union address by US president George W. Bush on September 20, 2001 is loaded with morals and principles about good and evil.
The president’s ultimatum was clear: either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.
In Syria, there is mounting evidence that Al Qaeda and its allies are actively deploying terror tactics and suicide bombers to overthrow the Assad regime.
Syrian citizens who prefer the secular and stable state to the prospect of an Iraqi-style sectarian state may well be turning this same question around to the US government: are you with us, or with the terrorists?
This week, head of the Salafi jihad and close ally of al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf, pledged ”deadly attacks” against Syria as ”our fighters are coming to get you” because ”crimes” by the regime ”prompts us to jihad”.
Bush referred to al Qaeda as the enemies of freedom: ”the terrorists’ directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews”. But Sheikh Muhammad al Zughbey proclaimed that ”your jihad against this infidel criminal and his people is a religious duty … Alawites are more infidel than the Jews and Christians”. Because the new jihad targets Alawites rather than Jews and Christians, does this render them better bed fellows?