ontroversy raged again in Cairo over the file of American aid to Egypt. This is after a US State Department spokesman said the Biden administration would suspend $130m in military aid. A State Department official also confirmed that the most prominent condition set by the Biden administration to release the rest of the aid is to end Case 173 regarding the trial of civil society activists and drop charges against them. This is in addition to the release of 16 people identified by the United States in meetings with the Egyptian government last June, without providing further details.
The threat to cut aid is not something unusual in US policy as it is always used to impose guardianship on countries either to change their public policies or even just to achieve personal interest or to settle scores. This approach prompted the American economist Stuart Smith to coin the term “political dollar”, where he made harsh criticism of US policy on aid. Smith also described aid as a form of modern control over countries in order to achieve American goals, stressing that the dollar does not change his nationality when he enters the new country, but rather changes the nationality of the country completely.
In fact, the threat to cut off American aid to Egypt is not the first of its kind and it will not be the last. The United States used aid as a pressure card previously in the wake of the January 30 revolution, where aid was cut off from Egypt at the request of many members of Congress after the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule, and of course, the Jewish lobby played a major role in this. Despite that, aid was restored again after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi assumed power, as the US administration realized that it could not interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs and that it was not in its interest to sever relations with the Egyptian army.
At that time, the Secretary of State John Kerry asserted in a congressional hearing that one of the most important investments of the United States of America with Egypt is its relationship with the military establishment for more than 30 years. He also stressed that the Egyptian armed forces stand as an impenetrable bulwark against extremism in the region, and any damage to this relationship will pose direct risks against American interests before Egyptian interests in light of the high indicators of risks and current security threats in the region.
Definitely, the real beneficiary of this aid is the United States of America. Whoever thinks that military aid to Egypt comes only to promote American values is mistaken, and his perception is contrary to reality, as this aid is only a tool to ensure Egypt’s cooperation in promoting US interests in the region. America periodically provides military aid for the purpose of securing the borders, combating the smuggling of arms and ammunition through tunnels into Gaza, and ensuring security in the Sinai. It also provides spare parts for military equipment and provides military training and education for officers in the Egyptian army to ensure continuous communication between military leaders on both sides.
Egypt also provides the United States with a favorable climate for its movement in the region by air and sea, as the Egyptian army allows American military aircraft to fly in the Egyptian military airspace. Moreover, Egypt gives priority to American warships passing through the Suez Canal, while providing protection measures for them during transit. This is despite the fact that Egyptian law provides for a period of 30 days before the approval of the Suez Canal transit, but Egypt allows the passage of American ships within 24 to 48 hours of being notified of the transit request.
In addition, according to the American ProPublica Foundation concerned with countries that receive American aid, Egypt is considered one of the most prolific countries in spending for the American military contractors, as the aid amounts are employed by the Americans to compel Egypt to buy expensive products from the American military contractors, and thus Egypt becomes an effective source of support for the American Arms companies.
The American military aid to Egypt was primarily aimed at stimulating and strengthening strategic cooperation between the two countries in the interest of Washington. However, successive presidents of the United States sought to use it in other directions and goals related to the Egyptian internal affairs until it almost became a pressure card used by the Jewish lobby in United State. Despite this, the obvious fact is that this aid has never succeeded in persuading decision-makers in Egypt to conduct Egypt’s internal affairs the way Washington wants, no matter what the pressures.
Dr. Marwa El-Shinawy is an Assistant Professor at International American University for Specialized Studies ( IAUS).