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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/11/13

Egypt is better off with the suspension of US Aid

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Message Sam Amer

Egypt is better off with the suspension of US Aid

Most commentators view the partial suspension of the US economic and military assistance to Egypt as a terrible blow to Egypt and its future economic and military health. A close look at the facts however, shows that in the long run, suspension of such aid might work to the advantage, rather than to the disadvantage of the Egyptians.

The US military and economic aid to Egypt is not carried out of love for democracy or for the Egyptians per se. It is carried out primarily to support the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in order to maintain stability and peace in the region. The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel is the linchpin of Middle East stability. It ensures peaceful coexistence between the two major militaries in the region.

US military aid also creates a dependency of the Egyptians on American Arms and provides insight into their military capabilities. Whatever the United States gives Egypt in military aid ensures that the arms supplied to the Egyptians are inferior to those supplied to Israel. It is exactly because of that reason that Israel is already demanding that the US military assistance to Egypt be maintained.

The economic aid that the United States provides to Egypt acts as a cover for the US-financed NGO's there. These organizations keep tabs on what is happening in Egypt and play a major role in moving public opinion there sometimes against clear Egyptian interests. These NGO's are financially supported by the US to help ensure that the policies adopted by the Egyptian government are in line with those of US and Israel.

In reality, there is no love lost between the Egyptian people and the United States. In spite of general admiration of the US as a country, public opinion in Egypt is strongly against the United States. It is quite clear to the Egyptians that US aid only serves American interests and the interests of US principal client in the region: Israel.

Suspension of US aid, both military and economic, could work in favor of Egypt for many reasons:

In the absence of US aid, Egypt will be forced to rely on own resources and those of its neighboring Arab/Moslem countries for economic and other assistance. Already, Saudi Arabia alone supplied more financial assistance to Egypt than was expected from the United States. Securing financial and other assistance from neighboring Arab/Moslem countries is far more preferable to relying on the assistance from the United States. In the least, such assistance would not aim to subjugate the Arab/Moslem interests to those of the United States or Israel.

Although, at this time, different Arab/Moslem countries are pursuing divergent policies in the Middle East, those countries are also undergoing severe challenges and changes to their political systems.  The future bodes well for more cohesion and inter-reliance among those seemingly divergent policies and apparent differences. When it comes to policies towards Israel for example, there is more uniformity than divergence. After all, most the people in those countries share the same language, religion and common goals. Never mind the highly exaggerated differences between Sunnis and Shias. When exposed to severe external threats, those differences will be quick to disappear as they have in the past.

Freedom from reliance on economic assistance from the United States, would spur the Egyptians towards self-reliance both in economic as well as military matters. It is time for the Egyptians to develop their independent economic life and take advantage of the vast Arab and Moslem markets that would be more open to them. A good example is what happened in Turkey in the late 60's and early 70's. After Turkey wiggled itself free of US economic assistance, its economy grew more independent and became more successful. Egypt has enough technology and entrepreneurship to take advantage of its surrounding markets armed by the common language and common interests.

Dissociation from the US in the military sphere will force the Egyptians to seek military hardware elsewhere from countries other than the United States. Although other military hardware could be inferior to that secured from the United States, it would introduce the specter of uncertainty to what the Egyptians would be capable of achieving militarily. At this time, Egypt does not present a credible military threat to anyone much less to Israel. When it comes to a confrontation with Israel however, the edge is not going to be superior weapon systems, but to asymmetric warfare. Persistent pressure through the use of less sophisticated weapon systems such as small arms fire and homemade rockets should be enough to scare the rich and sophisticated Israelis to immigrate to more secure environments. Egypt does not need sophisticated missile defense systems or atomic weapons to secure its survival, as does Israel. It can do with much less. It has the population and coherence to allow it to achieve its objectives, with or without assistance from the United States.

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Retired Pharmacologist with two masters and a Ph.D.
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