Egypt criticises US decision to halt aid
CAIRO - Reuters
Protesters, who are against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, hold a poster featuring the head of Egypt’s armed forces General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. AFP PhotoEgypt today criticized the U.S. decision to halt some aid to the army-backed government following a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood that has plunged the country into a violent political crisis.
Washington faces a dilemma in dealing with a major regional ally that controls the strategic Suez Canal and borders Israel but whose army overthrew the first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi, after mass protests against his rule. It said on Oct. 9 it would withhold deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopters and missiles as well as $260 million in cash aid but left some other aid program intact.
The U.S. position highlights the dilemma and also exposes differences with key Gulf ally Saudi Arabia, which had welcomed Morsi’s removal and has lavished extensive financial support to the new government.
It also raises the question of where Egypt, the second largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel, could now turn for more military aid.
“The decision was wrong. Egypt will not surrender to American pressure and is continuing its path towards democracy as set by the roadmap,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told a private Egyptian radio station Radio FM. Abdelatty later said in a statement the decision “posed serious questions around the United States’ readiness to provide stable strategic support for Egypt’s security programmes”.
The decision was made pending progress on democracy and human rights but the State Department said it would continue military support for counter terrorism, counter-proliferation and security in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders U.S. ally Israel. It will also continue to provide funding in areas such as education, health and private sector development. The private, anti-Islamist leaning Tahrir newspaper was even bolder in its criticism, with a headline proclaiming, “Let the American aid go to hell”. The army ousted Morsi in July, installed an interim government and presented a political “roadmap” it promised would lead to fair elections.