Egypt to give up US civil aid in a decade

Egypt has declared it will stop accepting aid from the United States due to the political demands that accompany it.

By ADAM GONN / THE MEDIA LINE
January 21, 2010 14:46
1 minute read.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak meets with US Mid

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak meets with US Mid. (photo credit: AP)

 
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The Egyptian government has announced it will stop taking aid from the US due to the political obligations attached to it.

The Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Abul Naga was quoted by local media as saying that President Hosni Mubarak has accepted a government proposal to give up the American annual aid because of the accompanying political demands.

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According to the statement only non-military aid is being declined. Egypt is considered one of the US's strongest and closest allies in the Middle East and receives $1.3 billion in military aid.

"Relatively speaking the importance of US economic aid to Egypt became a fraction of the Egyptian Gross Domestic Production," Dr. Gamal Soltan, Director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo told The Media Line. "The US economic assistance to Egypt over the past decade or so has come down from more than $800 million to something in the vicinity of $300 million."

"In the meantime the Egyptian economy has been growing and improving," Soltan said. "So it does make sense."

"The two governments agreed on a fading out of American economic aid," he said. "There are now negotiations about how the remaining aid can be better used for development in Egypt."

According to the US State Department between 1975 and 2002 the US Agency for International Development (USAID) provided over $25 billion in development and economic assistance.



After 2003 aid was switched to the Middle East Partnership Initiative program with a focus on economic reform, education and civil society.

"The military aid is important for both countries because it's part of the regional security and balance of power," Soltan said. "It's an expression of the American commitment to Egypt's security and an indication of the strong relations that the U.S. has with Egypt. It has nothing to do with the economy."

Dr. Walid Kazziha, Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at the American University in Cairo echoed Soltan's sentiments.
"As long as the military aid is still on the relationship will not change," Kazziha said.   "But my view is that Egypt will be more reluctant politically to tow the American line in the region."

"Generally speaking," he said, "aid to Egypt will be reduced progressively."

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