No, don't cut military aid to Egypt
August 12th, 2013
11:18 AM ET

No, don't cut military aid to Egypt

By Khairi Abaza, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Khairi Abaza is a senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The views expressed are his own.

The overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last month left the United States with a dilemma – should it continue to offer aid to Egypt as normal, or should it cut off the about $1.2 billion a year that goes to the military in protest at what is widely seen outside Egypt as a coup?

Certainly, there are have been loud calls from many within the policy community to do the latter, most notably Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who reportedly said last month: “We have to suspend aid to Egyptian military because the military has overturned the vote of the people.”

McCain appears to have softened his position, suggesting instead last week that the U.S. should consider cutting off aid if “they go ahead and crack down in a violent way.” Regardless, the idea is clear: halting assistance would pressure the Egyptian military into handing control of the government back to a civilian administration as quickly as possible.

But such a policy would not be without consequences for the United States. After all, this episode has pushed Egypt to find new allies – and to diversify its sources of armaments and military training.

The reality is that the Egyptian military has not only been a source of stability for the United States in an otherwise turbulent Middle East, but it has also been a cash cow. Currently, the Egyptian military relies on U.S. military equipment, training and services. This reliance means that Egypt is essentially a client of the U.S. military complex, and aid money is in fact re-injected back into the U.S. economy. Cutting off these armaments and services means that these funds will be diverted to Russian, Chinese, or French coffers.

More from CNN: Morsi holds key to Egypt's future

An end to the current relationship would also clearly mean less leverage for the United States, and the diversity that Egypt’s army is currently seeking would mean that no single country could have the type of leverage the United States has over Egypt. The country’s military would be even harder to influence, and given its current power over the country, this is clearly a dangerous prospect.

But an end to the current relationship would also have a direct and deleterious impact on American interests more broadly. An end to aid would threaten the durability of Egypt’s critical peace treaty with Israel, not to mention the current agreement that guarantees the safe and reliable passage of U.S. military ships and equipment through the Suez Canal.

An end to U.S. assistance would also throw into doubt Egypt’s dependability in times of crisis. The U.S. has engaged in countless military exercises with Egypt to prepare for multiple scenarios, and it would be a tremendous (and costly) shame if the U.S. walks away from such an investment.

And U.S. assistance to Egypt also serves as an important nonproliferation tool. It has enabled Washington to maintain a modicum of control over the arm race in the region, a point that is even more important as Iran continues a path that could ultimately see it acquire a nuclear weapon. Should Tehran cross this threshold, Egypt will almost certainly wish to go nuclear as well since it views Iran as a regional threat. With diminished leverage, the U.S. would be effectively powerless to prevent this “nuclear cascade.”

To be sure, the end of U.S. assistance would be inconvenient for Egypt. But it would not be fatal for its military or political system. The army’s commander, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, knows that Egypt would survive without it.  That’s why he continues to highlight Egypt’s two centuries-old struggle for national sovereignty and free will – a theme that Egyptians appreciate.

Al-Sisi also knows that this would not be the first time Egypt has switched military alliances. After the 1952 military coup, President Gamal Abdel Nasser was a Western ally until the West refused to fund his High Dam project. He subsequently turned to Moscow for help and became a Soviet ally. Washington was not able to bring Egypt back into the Western fold until 1978, leaving a period during which Nasser’s populism was a source of instability for the region, underscored by the wars of 1956, 1967, 1973 and Egypt’s war of attrition with Israel.

The toppling of Morsi will remain a source of controversy for years to come.  But whether it was a coup, a revolution, or a coup-volution matters little now.  What is important is that the United States maintains its crucial relationship with Egypt to safeguard the safety and security of the Middle East for years to come. U.S. threats to cut aid only encourage Egypt’s military leaders to seek new allies – allies that will almost certainly prove to be American adversaries in the future. And quite likely not friends of Egyptian democracy, either.

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Topics: Egypt • Military • United States

soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Quinton

    Don't worry Khairi, that we will not do! Come what may, this government will always give away our hard earned tax dollars to other countries even if it has to gut both Medicare and Social Security, close more of our schools, lay off more police and firemen and let more roads and bridges fall into disrepair!

    August 12, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Reply
    • harry sol

      you said it brother.
      i do wish that we could reboot this system and kick out the ones who are sending us to the poor house. All of them including the give away monster in D.C.

      August 14, 2013 at 8:25 am | Reply
  2. Reality

    Egyptian military is Nazi, they should be destroyed.

    August 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Reply
    • akram malak

      Egyptian army is loyal to the Egyptian
      Viva Egyptian Army
      really wish they kill all terrorist
      @ USA: we dont want Aid, we just want to elemental all terrorist and USA should stop supporting the criminal terrorist organization called Muslaim brotherhood...this organization should be listed as international terrorist organization.

      August 13, 2013 at 8:23 am | Reply
    • outsider

      This military belongs to general Sissi not to egypt

      August 29, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  3. Ahmed

    Mohamed Morsi is new Hitler and Muslaim brotherhood are killer
    Egyptian military stand beside the Egyptian revolution against Morsi the criminal ( 30 million egyptian were in the street against morsi and his gang )

    August 13, 2013 at 8:27 am | Reply
    • outsider

      How many square meters do you need to fit in 30 million people ?

      August 14, 2013 at 3:28 am | Reply
      • dan

        Apparently in Egypt one square mile is enough

        August 14, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  4. FGHJFGHJFGHJ

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    MAKE GROWTH, IRRADIATE YOUR BRAIN OR HAMMER YOUR ORGANS.
    WHY OBAMA AND DAGUTHERS TO SEND THE EVIDENC OF THE CRIMES, SAYS.
    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com

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    HUEVOS Y POLLOS QUE CRECEN CON NANO COMPUTADORAS.
    EN MENOS DE UNA SEMANA.
    QUE PASA CUNADO LOS COMEN, LOS HACEN CRECER, LOS IRRADIAN O LES ESTALLAN LOS ORGANOS.
    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com

    POR QUE OBAMA Y LAS HIJAS A LAS QUE SE LES ENVIO LAS PRUEBAS DE LOS CRIMENES QUE REALIZAN DICEN.

    QUE ES MUY LEGAL........
    DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
    COMENTARIO POR HORA CON TODAS LAS PLATAFOMAS HACKEADAS.

    August 13, 2013 at 9:46 am | Reply
    • Dott

      THIS IS AMERICA AND WE SPEAK AND READ ENGLISH HERE.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  5. FGHJFGHJFGHJFGHJFGHJ

    EGGS AND CHIKEN GROW WITH NANO TECNOLOGY IN LESS THAN A WEEK.
    WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EAT?.
    MAKE GROWTH, IRRADIATE YOUR BRAIN OR HAMMER YOUR ORGANS.
    WHY OBAMA AND DAGUTHERS TO SEND THE EVIDENC OF THE CRIMES, SAYS.
    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com

    WE ARE VERY LEGAL........
    HUEVOS Y POLLOS QUE CRECEN CON NANO COMPUTADORAS.
    EN MENOS DE UNA SEMANA.
    QUE PASA CUNADO LOS COMEN, LOS HACEN CRECER, LOS IRRADIAN O LES ESTALLAN LOS ORGANOS.
    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com

    POR QUE OBAMA Y LAS HIJAS A LAS QUE SE LES ENVIO LAS PRUEBAS DE LOS CRIMENES QUE REALIZAN DICEN.

    QUE ES MUY LEGAL........
    DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
    COMENTARIO POR HORA CON TODAS LAS PLATAFOMAS HACKEADAS.

    August 13, 2013 at 9:47 am | Reply
  6. FGHJFGHJFGHJFGHJFGHJ

    EGGS AND CHIKEN GROW WITH NANO TECNOLOGY IN LESS THAN A WEEK.
    WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EAT?.
    MAKE GROWTH, IRRADIATE YOUR BRAIN OR HAMMER YOUR ORGANS.
    WHY OBAMA AND DAGUTHERS TO SEND THE EVIDENC OF THE CRIMES, SAYS.
    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com

    WE ARE VERY LEGAL........
    HUEVOS Y POLLOS QUE CRECEN CON NANO COMPUTADORAS.
    EN MENOS DE UNA SEMANA.
    QUE PASA CUNADO LOS COMEN, LOS HACEN CRECER, LOS IRRADIAN O LES ESTALLAN LOS ORGANOS.
    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com

    POR QUE OBAMA Y LAS HIJAS A LAS QUE SE LES ENVIO LAS PRUEBAS DE LOS CRIMENES QUE REALIZAN DICEN.

    QUE ES MUY LEGAL........
    DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
    COMENTARIO POR HORA CON TODAS LAS PLATAFOMAS HACKEADAS.

    August 13, 2013 at 9:57 am | Reply
  7. j. von hettlingen

    Right after Morsi was ousted, Saudi Arabia and Qatar announced to provide $18 bn to Egypt in financial aid. The $1.3bn the US gives look insignificant. Nevertheless Egypt's military wouldn't want to miss the high-tech weaponry, co-operation and training etc from Pentagon.

    August 13, 2013 at 11:22 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      It's doubtful if Egypt would "go nuclear" should Iran have its nukes. Saudi Arabia more likely would see Iran as a huge – nuclear – threat. There had been a bit of rapprochement between Egypt and Iran while Morsi was president. Iranian warships were allowed to sail through the Suez Canal twice and Morsi went to Tehran for the Nonaligned Movement Summit a year ago.

      August 13, 2013 at 11:28 am | Reply
  8. Norman

    Downward spirals have an end
    Yes, there are many in Egypt and throughout the Middle East who are very excited about the idea of President Mursi being pushed out of power. Using a street mob to topple a government in such a manner, which will most likely be accompanied by heavy violence, should always be the “nuclear option” (if at all). Should we really believe Egypt needs two such interventions in the span of only two years? Are we to believe this revolution will be so much better than the last one? We have no reason to think so.

    Albert Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results. Egyptians would be wise to take note of his words. Repeating the same mistakes will not produce the desired ending. Banging your heads against the wall will not break it down. It's only going to give you a headache, not much different from the ones you have now. New ideas are required. Our Egyptian friends can learn from the example of others.

    August 13, 2013 at 11:46 am | Reply
  9. Dott

    No do not cut aid to Egypt but cut aid to needy Americans so that we can give to another nation. Meals on Wheels was cut and many elderly now go hungry. I find it strange that any true American would welcome giving billions to others instead of our own???? These are the people that have built this nation but we had rather give money to another nation? Housing has been lost, jobs have moved over seas and this nation is hurting. Is there anyone out there with a grain of intelligence to stop this insanity? If so I will vote for him/her.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Unfortunately Dott, the answer to your question is a resounding NO! As long as the right-wing fanatics in Washington keep getting elected over and over again, this insanity will go on, thanks to the ignorance of the general public!

      August 13, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Reply
      • easyrhino

        Obama, earlier this summer pledged $7,000,000,000 of US tax-payers money to Africa.

        Is Obama a "right wing fanatic" too?

        August 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Yes he is, easyrhino. That only means that Obama is trying to buy off the African leaders and turn them into lackeys for Washington in order to give these thugs power to further exploit Africa's resources!

        August 13, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
      • Anna

        Both parties are responsible for this.. not just Repubs. Wake up

        August 14, 2013 at 3:29 am |
  10. easyrhino

    US citizens are losing their homes, losing their jobs, going without health insurance/healthcare yet the tax dollars of those same citizens is being given away by corrupt bureaucrats in DC to foreign countries to the tune of $50,000,000,000 per year.

    Makes perfect sense.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  11. Won

    No. I WILL NOT PUT ANY TAX DOLLARS TO EGYPT! PERIOD! It's not our responsibility.

    August 13, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Thank you, Won. How right you are!

      August 13, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Reply
    • Dott

      Won you me us won't be asked to approve the billions we send them even though it is OUR money. What a country!!!

      August 14, 2013 at 6:23 am | Reply
  12. outsider

    Why are you having this discussion and wasting your time ?
    The aid to egypt is the price for israels security . Isreals security is funded by american tax payers . So regardless of what the egyptian military does or if they even confess that it is a coup or if they confess they hate the US ,the US will be forced to resume the aid because its the price to protect israel. The US is like a hostage to both the egyptian military and to Israel you cannot cut any aid to both of them . Its a sad situation but it is your choice, even if you need this money at home you MUST give it to foreign countries. I do really object to the argument that the aid is reinvested back in the US so save yourself the effotr and keep it in the US from the start

    August 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Reply
  13. Des Perado

    Ummmmm…throw millions MORE of TAXPAYERS’ money into Egypt and we’ll be just fine
    Like Abdullah-kissing Obama kissing the Moslem brotherhood—yes we HAVE lost our mind !!!

    August 13, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  14. outsider

    A question only for those with brains regarding the situation in egypt .
    How much of egypts GDP is controlled by the military ?
    How many persons per square meter must fit in 100000 square meters to reach one 4 million protestors ?
    How many persons per square meter fit in the best music concert ever ?
    This is to reply to the claim that 30 million people went to protest against morsi, so we better let the numbers and logic answer this question

    August 13, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Reply
    • outsider

      Sorry i meant 4 million people (protestors) , which is proportional to cairos population to the total egyptian population and that most protestors were in tahrir square

      August 13, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  15. Terry

    Imagine, a muslim telling us not to quit giving money to muslims, how rich. Scr ew you.

    August 13, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Reply
  16. Me

    the world would be a far better place if the US stopped pushing its military aid, sales and presence – which is always to further its own ends anyway

    the gap would not be filled by anyone else – the rest of the world is just responding to US imperialism

    August 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  17. lie detector

    the whole middle east is falling apart due to a well planned psyops operation that created the havoc during a key time frame bread riots started this.,
    remember the street vendor that gave up and set himself on fire?
    with or without more military weaponry from the American military industrial complex the gig is up and the whole of the middle east is about to implode as part of the master plan to take over the globe.

    August 13, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  18. lie detector

    remember the people arrested for dancing at the Jefferson memorial?
    well their story got scrubbed by the media like the story about bengazi and the irs scandal and gun runner fast and furious and like the up and coming hilbillary special they are making it will ignore more fake scandals like being disbarred and all these people close the the clintons that seem to end up dead.

    August 13, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Reply
  19. brown

    Nothing to see here folks, America's corrupt leaders typically back the dictator or military.

    August 13, 2013 at 10:19 pm | Reply
    • outsider

      Exactly for the sake of Israel not for the sake of US citizens

      August 14, 2013 at 3:30 am | Reply
  20. Bill

    No, we shouldn't stop aid to Egypt "because they overturned the will of the people."

    We should stop aid to Egypt because they're terrorists, and because we're broke.

    August 14, 2013 at 12:15 am | Reply
  21. Peke

    200 killed today by the egyptian military
    but yes, let's continue supply that same military with guns and helicopters and weapons so that they can kill more people

    second reason Zakharia gives is: we do it for the money. Read his article and you will see that the money is one of his major motives

    August 14, 2013 at 4:50 am | Reply
  22. DOROTHY

    The US cannot cut military aid to Egypt even if they want to.They need Egypt more than Egypt needs them because of Israel.We are cornered.Our tax cash in flames.

    August 14, 2013 at 5:43 am | Reply
  23. Abla Ahmed

    If the US doesn't benefit from this"aid", why does it give its money away? As an ordinary Egyptian civilian, I beseech you, USA, keep your money to yourselves. All you have gained by your foreign policy worldwide (which has, surprisingly, always ended up in the rise of terrorism everywhere you interfered) is the mockery and hatred of world citizens.

    August 14, 2013 at 5:45 am | Reply
    • Dott

      Who started this buying friends. Has never worked and never will. The ordinary citizens of Egypt will not benefit from OUR money in the least. While we do without to send them money. I do not think any country, including Africa should get one dime from the USA tax payers. I will gladly donate to Africa's Birth Control effort. Why have another child when you already have hungry ones? Family planning could resolve some of their problems but we don't do it in America either so. The world is getting over populated and soon we will run out of food and water. Lets all work on Family Planning.

      August 14, 2013 at 6:29 am | Reply
  24. dl

    As long as the Egyptian military does our bidding, keep paying them. As soon as they don't, then demonize & cruise missle Cairo! (the American democtaric way)

    August 14, 2013 at 7:59 am | Reply
  25. Overt

    Words of wisdom from The Who, 1972
    "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss"
    It doesn't matter who is in charge, it is a different culture with different values. No matter how much money we send them Egypt will not become the America of the Middle East.

    August 14, 2013 at 8:34 am | Reply
  26. Matt

    What is 1.3 billion compared to 12 billion. These things don't end well look at Musharraf so there is no going back it is jail or death for the general. Problem is militaries can't run countries let alone their own budgets. So the economic situation will not change one because they can't run countries and two disproportionate ownership by the military of industry etc. So the same people that overthrow Mubarak and then the SCAF and then Morsi, for the same reason as the start of the revolution, will face the same fate as Morsi supporters next time they complain about the dictatorship.

    August 14, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  27. richbrunelle

    I think we should pull out of every Islamic country in the Middle East, immediately. There is absolutely no justification for the United States to be providing any sort of support or aid to any country that practices the teachings of Islam, and thrives on abuse of human rights. Forget the oil, forget the hype, pack our people up and bring them all home. Either the Middle-East decides it own fate or their new allies can. But we as a Nation have turned our back to the acts performed by the animals in the Middle-East because of need for oil. WE DO NOT NEED THEIR OIL THAT BAD! If the Middle-East cannot create a society without the acceptance of certain principles and adherence to human rights, we do not belong there. This is another case of our Politicians not doing their jobs and representing the people. Why would our Government think that trading off our standards of human rights for oil an acceptable trade.

    BULL#$%^ Get us out of the Middle-East until it is time to pave it as a parking lot!!!

    August 15, 2013 at 1:04 am | Reply
  28. Junior Parker

    We should cut aid to all of the countries in the Middle East. Including Israel. The only threat to our national interest we have in the Middle East is our politicians trying to do something there.

    Note: Since World War II, most, but not all of the support to Israel we have provided has amounted to a Cold Religious War against Islam. Israel is a Jewish State want-a-be, not a democracy. The elected president appoints the rest. This appointed cronyism assures a Jewish leader. Israel is not even a Christian state as some of our Southern Christians have been lead to believe by politician wanting support for their middle east causes.

    August 17, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  29. DR STEVE RAMSEY- CANADA

    USA SHOULD NOT GIVE MONEY OR ARM TO EGYPT ARMY THOSE COUP KILLERS OF THE DEMOCRACY SHOULD BE DEALT WITH......AND ALSO ALOOO USA SHOULD STRIKE LONG TIME AGO YOU DONT GO AND TELL YOUR ENEMY YOU GONE STRIKE THIS DATE IT IS STUPID WHERE IS THE TACTICS AND SURPRISING ELEMENTS THAT ARMY TEACHES YOU...SYRIA ALREADY MOVE ALL THE WEAPONS AND CHEMICAL BOMBS HIDING IT IN LEBANON WITH HEZBOLLAH SAFE HOUSES, AND ALSO HIDING THEM WITH THE SHIIA MOSQUES SAFE HOUSES CALLED HUSSAINIA PLACE AND ALSO IN THE OFFICERS HOUSES AND HOMES , SOME OF THE JETS ALREADY HIDDEN AND SOME WENT TO IRAQ AND LEBANON SOME TO RUSSIAN SHIPS....SO USA WILL ATTACK EMPTY BUILDINGS AND SOME ARMS AND CAMPS.....USA SHOULD ATTACK HEZBOLLAH BASES IN LEBANON IF THEY WANT TO DESTROY SYRIA EVIL ARMY AND IF IRAN WANT TO INVOLVE IT IS BETTER TO HIT 3 BIRDS IN ONE STONE ONCE AFTER ALL THOSE EVIL MUST GO...

    September 8, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Reply
  30. DR STEVE RAMSEY- CANADA

    shia Iran cult government Iraqi almaleki shia government Syria shia thugs along with Hezbollah stole billions and killed more than 1 million Sunni kurds and Christians already those evil thugs killed 1444000 in Syria alone..and usa are silent!!!!!!!!!!!!attack them now before it is too late Syria sent most of the weapon to be hidden with Hezbollah and Iraqi shia wake up usa...fk egypt army who came by coup...

    September 9, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Reply

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