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Ed Webb

F.A.Q. on U.S. Aid to Egypt: Where Does the Money Go-And Who Decides How It's Spent? - ... - 0 views

  • article has been updated to reflect new developments. It was first published on Jan. 31, 2011
  • How much does the U.S. spend on Egypt? Egypt gets the most U.S. foreign aid of any country except for Israel. (This doesn't include the money [3] spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.) The exact amount varies from year to year and there are many different funding streams, but U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt has averaged about $2 billion a year since 1979
  • military funding also enables Egypt to purchase U.S.-manufactured military goods and services
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  • Congress threatened to block the aid when Egypt began a crackdown on a number of American pro-democracy groups this winter. A senior Obama administration official said that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had no way to certify [10] the bill's conditions were being met. But in March Clinton waived the certification requirement (yes, she can do that) and approved the aid, despite concerns remaining about Egypt's human rights record. The reason? "A delay or cut in $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt risked breaking existing contracts with American arms manufacturers that could have shut down production lines in the middle of President Obama's re-election campaign," the New York Times reported [11]. Breaking the contracts could have left the Pentagon on the hook for $2 billion.
  • U.S. economic aid to Egypt has slumped from $815 million in 1998 to about $250 million in 2011
  • When the Obama administration announced last month [18] that it was sending the Egyptian government $450 million to help forestall a budget crisis, Representative Kay Granger, a Texas Republican and the chairwoman of a subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, said she would block the money because of concerns about Egypt's direction under the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ed Webb

State Department Considers Cutting Aid to Egypt After Death of U.S. Citizen Mustafa Kassem - 0 views

  • In a memo sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by the agency’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in early March and described to Foreign Policy, the nation’s most senior diplomat was given the option to cut up to $300 million in U.S. military aid to Egypt over the death of Mustafa Kassem, a dual American and Egyptian citizen who appealed unsuccessfully to U.S. President Donald Trump to secure his release in his final days.
  • In a letter sent late last month, Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy and Chris Van Hollen also urged Pompeo to withhold $300 million in military assistance to Cairo and to sanction any Egyptian official “directly or indirectly responsible” for Kassem’s imprisonment and death
  • In two years on the job, Pompeo has twice decided to overlook human rights considerations to greenlight military aid to Egypt, leading some experts to cast doubt on whether the Trump administration will make cuts even after the death of a U.S. citizen.
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  • Under Trump, the United States has been largely reluctant to challenge Egypt, the second-largest recipient of U.S. military aid, which provides the Department of Defense with overflight rights and the ability to navigate the Suez Canal.
  • Kassem had been on a liquid-only hunger strike and had not received proper medical treatment before dying of heart failure in January.
  • a State Department official said the agency would not comment on internal deliberations. “We remain deeply saddened by the needless death in custody of Moustafa Kassem and we are reviewing our options and consulting with Congress,” the official said. “In the wake of the tragic and avoidable death of Moustafa Kassem, we will continue to emphasize to Egypt our concerns regarding the treatment of detainees, including U.S. citizens.”
  • In his role as the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Leahy, a long-standing critic of Egypt’s human rights record, has held up $105 million in military aid to Cairo to purchase Apache helicopters and Hellfire missiles. Leahy imposed the funding freeze on Egypt two years ago in response to its detention of Kassem, its failure to fully cover the medical costs for an American citizen wounded in a botched 2015 Apache helicopter raid, and its refusal to permit adequate U.S. oversight of its use of American military assistance in its counterterrorism operations in Sinai.
  • The dual citizen—held without charges for much of his six-year detention—insisted he had been wrongly arrested during an August 2013 visit to his birth country that coincided with the deadly Rabaa Square massacre against demonstrators protesting the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi. Kassem’s advocates said he was not involved in the Rabaa Square demonstrations. He was in prison for over five years before an Egyptian court, without due process, sentenced him to 15 years in prison in 2018.
  • There are at least three other American citizens—Reem Dessouky, Khaled Hassan, and Mohammed al-Amash—and two permanent residents—Ola Qaradawi and Hossam Khalaf—detained in Egypt on charges related to their political views, according to a bipartisan group of foreign-policy experts called the Working Group on Egypt that tracks the issue
  • “It is incomprehensible that Egypt, a close ally of the United States that receives some $1.5 billion annually in assistance from American taxpayers, would be less responsive than Iran, Lebanon, and other countries to repeated calls for the humanitarian release of detained Americans,”
  • Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham stopped a provision in the final version of the State Department’s appropriations bill last year that would have withheld nearly $14 million in military aid until Egypt paid off the medical expenses for April Corley, an American mistakenly injured in an attack by Egyptian military forces in the nation’s western desert in 2015.
  • The United States and Egypt set up a structured process of defense meetings to properly resource the nation’s military after the Obama administration suspended aid amid massacres after Morsi’s ouster, but the forum “has long devolved into a grab bag of weapons requests,”
  • “By sending this amount of military assistance for such a long time—when you add it up its $40 billion over decades—what the United States has ended up doing is feeding the beast that’s devouring the whole country,” she said, referring to the Egyptian military.
Ed Webb

How Mike Pence's Office Meddled in Foreign Aid to Reroute Money to Favored Christian Gr... - 0 views

  • Decisions about U.S. aid are often no longer being governed by career professionals applying a rigorous review of applicants and their capabilities. Over the last two years, political pressure, particularly from the office of Vice President Mike Pence, had seeped into aid deliberations and convinced key decision-makers that unless they fell in line, their jobs could be at stake
  • ProPublica viewed internal emails and conducted interviews with nearly 40 current and former U.S. officials and aid professionals that shed new light on the success of Pence and his allies in influencing the government’s long-standing process for awarding foreign aid.
  • “There are very deliberate procurement guidelines that have developed over a number of years to guard precisely against this kind of behavior,”
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  • USAID regulations state that awards “must be free from political interference or even the appearance of such interference and must be made on the basis of merit, not on the basis of the religious affiliation of a recipient organization, or lack thereof.”
  • In August, as the White House was considering cuts to an array of foreign aid programs, it shielded funding for religious minorities abroad
  • Late in the Obama administration, USAID’s activities in Iraq focused on an effort by the United Nations to restore basic services as soon as cities had been liberated from Islamic State rule. By the end of 2016, the United States had contributed over $115 million to the effort through USAID, and other countries had contributed hundreds of millions of dollars more. U.S. officials credit the U.N.’s work with enabling millions of Iraqis to return to their homes soon after the fighting was done instead of languishing in refugee camps.
  • U.S. officials in Iraq were sensing dissatisfaction among some Iraqi Christians and American religious groups with the U.S. strategy and the U.N.’s work. Trying to head off problems, U.S. officials urged the U.N. in the summer of 2017 to pay special attention to the Nineveh Plains, an ethnically and religiously diverse region of northern Iraq where many of the country’s Christians live. U.N. officials were reluctant, arguing their assistance could go further in dense urban areas like Mosul, as opposed to the Nineveh Plains, a stretch of farmland dotted by small towns and villages.
  • Many career officials at the State Department and USAID supported the broader scope of the U.N.’s work. They acknowledged it wasn’t perfect — it could be slow, and the U.N. was not adept at communicating with local communities — but said the rebuilding had benefited wide swaths of territory that included both Muslims and minority groups.
  • Career officials also expressed concerns at the time that targeting federal funds toward particular minority groups on the basis of religion could be unconstitutional
  • Initially, Pence’s office and political appointees at USAID were focused on helping Christians, with little attention to Yazidis, a small, ancient sect that was targeted in an especially cruel manner by Islamic State militants, said a current official and a former foreign service officer. Over time, career officials “helped educate” political appointees on the extent of the Yazidis’ suffering, in hopes of getting their support for directing some aid at non-Christian groups, the former foreign service officer said. “There was a very ideological focus on Christians, and most of the questions were about Christians,” this person said. “We were trying to get them to focus on others in the minority communities that might need assistance.”
  • While the grant process was being worked out at USAID, Pence blindsided officials in October 2017 when he declared to an influential Christian group in Washington that Trump had ordered diplomats to no longer fund “ineffective” U.N. programs. USAID would now directly help persecuted communities, he said.
  • Mark Green, the head of USAID, expressed discomfort to a colleague about potential interference by Pence into the grant process
  • Pence’s then-chief of staff, Nick Ayers, called Steiger to demand somebody at the agency be punished for the failure to provide aid to Christian groups quickly enough, according to several people familiar with the conversation. Ayers did not respond to requests for comment. Green’s reaction was to remove Maria Longi, a career civil servant and a top official in USAID’s Middle East bureau. Though still on USAID’s payroll, she now teaches national security strategy at the National War College.
  • Concern spread even among Trump appointees that their jobs might be threatened. “What it did instill in the Middle East bureau was fear among the political appointees that they could be thrown out at any time,”
  • Five current or former U.S. officials said involvement in grant decisions by political appointees — particularly by someone as senior as Ferguson — is highly unusual. USAID grants are typically decided by a review committee and a contracting officer, all of whom are career officials.
  • “USAID procurement rules with technical review panels are strict, as they should be, to avoid any political interference on the use of U.S. taxpayer dollars,”
  • Aside from its small size and lack of federal grant experience, Shlama was an unconventional choice for another reason. Last year it received $10,000 in donations from the Clarion Project, a nonprofit organization which researchers at Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative said “advances anti-Muslim content through its web-based and video production platforms.”
  • USAID is now expanding its emphasis on religious minorities far beyond Iraq. In December, a month after his email about White House pressure, Ferguson told USAID mission directors in the Middle East that agency leadership had identified up to $50 million it planned to use in 2019 for “urgent religious freedom and religious persecution challenges,” according to a second email seen by ProPublica. He asked mission directors to submit programming ideas. In a follow-up email in June, also seen by ProPublica, Ferguson wrote that in addition to Iraq, religious and ethnic minority programming was planned for Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia.
Ed Webb

To Reduce Migration, Trump Might Be Right About Cutting Foreign Aid | Acumen | OZY - 0 views

  • The paper, published last year by the Center for Global Development, found that while it’s difficult to compare the various existing studies as they examine different countries and correct for different variables, some found that foreign aid actually raises emigration. And the reason isn’t that people in those countries don’t need help. It’s that below a certain gross domestic product per capita threshold, people simply don’t have the resources to migrate. According to a recent study by Germany’s Berlin Institute for Population and Development, migration numbers to Europe are lowest in countries where the GDP per capita is below $2,000. The highest levels of migration to Europe are seen from countries with a GDP of $8,000 to $13,000, such as Tunisia and Jordan.
  • Some of the factors shaping migration potential are economic, political — like oppression or conflict in the home country — or environmental, like climate change
  • “Foreign aid for development is not huge,” explains Francesco Castelli, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Brescia. “OECD countries have pledged to invest 0.7 percent of their GDP for development activities, but most of them are far from reaching this level of aid.” Even what is given is often made less effective by corruption, poor management and following the priorities of the donors rather than the people in the affected countries. “Pumping money in a given country is not at all the best way to prevent migration,” he says. “Development needs decades to happen, not yearly projects.”
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  • Last year, a Gallup poll found that 15 percent of the world’s population — about 750 million people — would like to migrate. But only about 3.3 percent of the world’s population actually does, according to the latest U.N. International Migration Report.
  • Some European Union member states, Carrasco Heiermann says, are already dependent on immigration. Last year, the EU’s “old-age dependency ratio” — the number of people over 65 compared to the number of people in the working-age population — hit record highs, with only three working-age people for every elderly person. In order to maintain their economies and support systems, the EU may have to rely on outside migration.
Ed Webb

Janine R. Wedel: Will Foreign Aid Dollars Help or Hurt Democracy in the Middle East? - 0 views

  • The goal of handing out foreign aid to foster "civil society" always sounds noble and well-intentioned. But you'll forgive someone like me for being skeptical about the results. I saw up close how those dollars were deployed in Central and Eastern Europe some 20 years ago, and wrote about it in my book Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe. Useful contacts and exchanges were sometimes forged. But the result, more often than not, was that aid served to enrich a few favored cliques, in direct contradiction with stated aims of building democracy and engendering pluralism. Those in the West hoping to further cultivate the nascent "Arab Spring" would do well to heed the lessons of the post-Communist era. 
  • Frequently deficient in cultural and historical sensibilities, it was the Western consultants and aid representatives who often made social fools of themselves.
  • To get money from the West was to be blessed by it, greatly enhancing one's reputation and lending legitimacy that could be leveraged both inside and outside the country to accrue further rewards, and compounding the power of the individual's group.
    • Ed Webb
       
      The prestige point might work in reverse, though, in the Middle East & North Africa due to suspicion of late-/neo-colonialism
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  • There is no substitute for local knowledge. Democracy is never a simple translation.
Ed Webb

Egypt warns U.S. on attaching conditions to military aid - The Washington Post - 0 views

  • Egyptian officials expressing alarm about a move by the U.S. Senate to link military aid to Egypt’s performance as a democracy. The Senate bill would withhold up to $1.3 billion in U.S. aid for 2012 until the secretary of state certifies that Egypt has held democratic elections and is protecting freedoms of the press, expression and association.
  • The Egyptians say that they will hold free elections but that the Senate measure sends a bad signal at a delicate time. The military is in power during the run-up to elections, a turbulent period that has included continued protests and an attack by demonstrators on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.“If you insert new conditions, hinting at the fact the military aid might be touched in the future, this signals to the Egyptian military [that] the United States is not as solidly behind us as we think,” the Egyptian official said.
Ed Webb

Pentagon rethinks how to protect diplomats, aid workers in Mideast war zones - 0 views

  • The Pentagon is pushing Congress for more authority to provide security to diplomats and aid workers in conflict zones, a move that could allow US aid to penetrate deeper into war zones in the Middle East such as Yemen.
  • Undersecretary for Defense John Rood, the Pentagon’s number three official, submitted the proposal that would allow the agency to provide as much as $25 million in logistical support and services to support the State Department and USAID’s stabilization efforts
  • The Pentagon proposal could potentially set up the United States to have a larger role if negotiations succeed to end Yemen’s five-year war. Since the summer, the State Department scurried to help the country’s warring factions, including the exiled Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi government, the Iran-supported Houthi movement, the Saudi-led coalition and the United Arab Emirates-backed Southern Transitional Council, come to the bargaining table.
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  • The Pentagon's reexamination of the agency’s role in protecting diplomats in war zones has come as top members of Congress are also looking at options to give the hollowed-out State Department more firepower, such as the Provincial Reconstruction Teams used in the 2007 Iraq troop surge led by Gen. David Petraeus.
  • terror groups such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State — the main focus of American strategy in the war-torn country — as well as Iran could exploit power vacuums in the country.
  • The proposal would specifically allow State Department and USAID staffers to be detailed to Pentagon forces, allowing the Defense Department to maintain legal authority to protect American diplomats or aid workers. It would also allow the Defense Department to assume the authority to conduct stabilization operations if State personnel are unwilling to go. The defense spokesperson said though the Pentagon often has access to conflict zones, the agency “has extremely limited authority to conduct stabilization activities” or to support the State Department or USAID.
  • Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Ct., has called on the Donald Trump administration to create a hybrid class of so called “warrior-diplomats” who have the ability to protect themselves and provide conflict resolution support.
Ed Webb

Church Appeal on Israel Angers Jewish Groups - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • “We asked Congress to treat Israel like it would any other country,”
  • Christian leaders responded in interviews that the letter was focused only on Israel because it is the largest recipient of American foreign aid, and because the aid flows to Israel without conditions or accountability. Humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority was suspended last year because of violations, and Congress is re-evaluating aid to Egypt, noted Peter Makari, the executive for the Middle East and Europe in global ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), who helped write the letter. “The need to hold Israel as accountable as other countries in the region is important,”
Ed Webb

Alia Awadallah on Twitter: "Victory for Jordan securing a five year MOU. Higher aid lev... - 0 views

  • Victory for Jordan securing a five year MOU. Higher aid levels than previous MOU & longer by 2 years. Plus follows Jordanian opposition to Jerusalem move. Was far fetched that the administration would withhold aid to Jordan, but with this president you never know.
Ed Webb

U.S. quietly allows military aid to Egypt despite rights concerns - Politics - Egypt - ... - 0 views

  • Secretary of State John Kerry quietly acted last month to give Egypt $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid, deciding that this was in the national interest despite Egypt's failure to meet democracy standards.
  • "By issuing a waiver without any public discussion, it has at the very least missed a significant opportunity to ... raise its concerns about the political trajectory in Egypt," she said. Wittes said that last year's waiver occurred at a time when Egypt had made some progress toward greater democratic reforms, while this year "the waiver was issued in the context of a negative trajectory in Egypt's transition to democracy."
Ed Webb

Arab countries' foreign policy ambitions could start hurting their economies - Business... - 1 views

  • There is a certain irony in the Arab Gulf states’ rising power across the Middle East and North Africa. International prestige, the ability to intervene militarily in regional conflict, and holding the same leverage as international financial institutions in aid and investment are what these states have long coveted. But now that they have the power – both economic and military – Gulf states like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are faced with the dilemma of demonstrating their dominance without destroying the neighbourhood.
  • Gulf states’ foreign policies are increasingly at odds with their economic interests
  • The economies of the Gulf states have changed dramatically since the beginning of the second oil boom, between 2003 and 2014. Joined together in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) trade bloc, they are more integrated into the regional and wider international economy in trade and investment flows
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  • The GCC’s outward investments in equity markets, especially towards Europe and the US, means it is also more integrated globally. And it has large amounts of foreign direct investment in infrastructure, agriculture and real estate across the MENA region.
  • The strength of their economic influence in the region lies in huge flows of capital – often a mixture of remittances, foreign aid, and foreign direct investment under the auspices of state-related bodies. This has enabled the Gulf states to usurp international institutions in shaping economic reform across the MENA region, especially in Egypt and other oil importers.
  • Politically, however, the GCC is engaged in numerous interventions across the region that have caused significant disorder and pose a threat to their mutual economic prosperity. The Gulf states were successful in crushing the Arab Spring within their own countries and cementing their development agenda. By contrast, their interventions in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Egypt have stoked the chaos there, putting the stability of the region at risk.
  • In each of these interventions, there is an incumbent economic cost to the GCC states. The war in Yemen is probably the best example of a mounting military expenditure that will only be dwarfed by the cost of re-building Yemen, which surely the UAE and Saudi Arabia will have to help foot. The Gulf States would therefore be wise to start dovetailing their foreign policies with their economic interests by fostering stability instead of conflict.
Ed Webb

Former Obama officials propose talking with Iran on Syria aid | The Back Channel - 0 views

  • Amid deepening US-Russia strains over Ukraine, two former Obama administration officials say it may be time for the US to explore trying to develop a channel with Iran to discuss Syria, beginning with humanitarian relief.
  • “My bottom line sense with the Iranians is there’s hope for a US-Iran conversation [on Syria humanitarian aid] that is a serious and potentially productive one,” Frederic Hof, a former senior US diplomat advising the Obama administration on Syria and the Levant, told Al-Monitor.in an interview last week. In track 2 conversations with Iranians that Hof has been involved in, “the people I talk to are blunt:  they are not interested in talking about a [Syria] political transition,” Hof, now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said. “They need Assad and regime support to Hezbollah in Lebanon as Iran’s first line of defense against Israel and the possibility of an Israeli air assault on their nuclear facilities.”
  • Those “in charge of the US role in the P5+1 will absolutely oppose any kind of cross -pollination or discussion about Syria. So it takes a decision almost at the highest level,” to try to pursue a Syria channel with Iran.
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  • Hof said he raised with Iranian interlocutors in track 2 talks the prospect of a scenario in which a “Srebrenica-style moment” occurred in Syria, as the Iran and the P5+1 were advancing a nuclear deal. A scenario in which “your client does something so outrageous, that it inspires POTUS to do what he declined to do in August or September,” Hof said. “To the extent you guys are serious on the nuclear front, what does that do to that progress?” Hof asked his Iranian interlocutors. “And they looked at one another and shrugged, because their attitude is, Assad is not the most reliable guy in the world.”
Ed Webb

Russia has stepped up bombing since Turkey downed its aircraft | McClatchy DC - 2 views

  • Putin has ordered a bombing campaign that’s destroyed bakeries and relief convoys in northern Syria, cutting the flow of food to more than half a million civilians.
  • complete halt in relief operations by major humanitarian aid groups, all of which operate out of Turkey
  • Putin’s aim appears to be cutting supply lines from Turkey to rebel forces and civilians in northern Syria as well as, Turkish officials say, preventing the creation of a safe zone just inside Syria where civilians could flee without fear of being bombed. If the Turks were to reopen their border, aid workers say, the refugee flow into the country could be enormous
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  • The stepped-up Russian bombing campaign has had another effect, rebels and aid workers say, allowing the Islamic State to move into areas that it previously had not controlled close to the Turkish border
  • hundreds of thousands of residents are caught in the crossfire and are unable to flee their homes
  • for the first time in two years, the YPG and Syrian government forces appear to be cooperating, with the YPG opening a route between the mainly Kurdish Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud to government-controlled parts of the city as part of an effort to control Kastello, a key point on the main road from Aleppo to Turkey. The YPG forces have benefited, according to U.N., Turkish government and rebel officials, from Russian and government airstrikes targeting rebel forces that receive covert military aid from the U.S., West European and Arab states
  • Obama administration has said little about the moves by the YPG, which has been the U.S.’s chief ally on the ground in Syria
  • Russian air campaign, combined with a ground offensive by Iranian and Syrian government forces, also benefited the Islamic State
  • while moderate Arab rebel forces, backed by U.S. and Turkish air strikes, have conquered several villages controlled by the Islamic State close to the Turkish border, the main gains in the fighting of the past 10 days have been made by the Islamic State
Ed Webb

Coronavirus spurs regional humanitarian outreach to Iran - 0 views

  • The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar have reached out to Iran to provide humanitarian assistance to help it combat one of the world’s biggest outbreaks of coronavirus, as some experts and former policymakers urged the United States and Iran to pursue “virus diplomacy” to save Iranian lives.
  • The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) praised the UAE and its de facto ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, for a second humanitarian airlift to Iran this week of medical equipment, gloves and surgical masks to combat the respiratory disease.
  • Kuwait’s foreign minister, in a phone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday, offered Iran $10 million to fight COVID-19. Qatar said Sunday that it was sending medical aid to Iran, including 6 tons of medical equipment and supplies, Gulf News reported .
connelth

Red Cross postpones aid convoys after Aleppo attack - 0 views

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    GENEVA Aid convoys for four Syrian towns will be postponed as staff reassess security after a deadly attack on relief trucks and intensified violence, a senior official from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday.
Ed Webb

US senate bill conditions Egypt aid on disclosure of security budget - Economy - Busine... - 0 views

  • The bill, however, gives the Secretary of State the right to waive any of the aforementioned requirements, if doing so was deemed "important to the national security interest of the United States."
Ed Webb

Morsi's Just Not That Into Iran - By Geneive Abdo and Reza H. Akbari | The Middle East ... - 0 views

  • Morsi's performance in Tehran disappointed his Iranian hosts as cruelly as it mocked those who warned that his visit would deliver Egypt into Iran's camp and reveal a radical new Egyptian foreign policy.
  • "Our solidarity with the struggle of the Syrian people against an oppressive regime that has lost legitimacy is an ethical duty as it is a political and strategic necessity," he said, prompting Syrian officials to walk out of the summit in protest. Sitting directly beside Ahmadinejad, Morsi said: "I am here to announce our full and just support for a free, independent Syria that supports a transition into a democratic system and that respects the will of the Syrian people for freedom and equality at the same time, preventing Syria from going into civil war or going into sectarian divisions."
  • Morsi's decision to take the opportunity offered by Iran to embrace the Syrian uprising against Assad therefore put the Iranian regime in something of a bind. Morsi refused even to say clearly if relations with Iran will be upgraded, but he has said he will pursue a more balanced foreign policy with many states, including Iran. A leaked memo issued by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance on August 26, which issued strict instructions to the media banned them from publishing: "Any potential devilish comments about issues pertaining to Egypt, Bahrain and Syria." The memo (published on various Iranian opposition websites) effectively censored the media from publishing anything negative about the NAM summit.
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  • Despite their optimistic rhetoric, Iranian officials realize now that they are likely to gain far less than they had hoped from the Arab uprisings. As their ally Syria crumbles and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) becomes increasingly hostile, Egypt could be its best and only hope for a new Arab friend in the short-term. But Egypt is less interested in playing along. Not only are the two countries seriously divided over the Syria crisis, but the cost of restoring ties with Iran for Egypt would be great. Not only would this alienate the United States and Israel, but also relations with Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, would be severely damaged. And Morsi clearly understands the importance of maintaining good ties in the Gulf -- aid is at stake. In fact, his first diplomatic mission after he became president was to Saudi Arabia on July 10. The purpose of the visit was to secure aid to replenish Egypt's diminishing currency reserves. Iran, faced with crippling international sanctions, would find it hard to compete with the Saudis in the economic aid arena.
Ed Webb

U.S. debt relief for Egypt is mostly politics - News - Aswat Masriya - 1 views

  • President Mohamed Mursi faces many challenges to get Egypt's finances into shape, but high foreign debt isn't one of them. Interest payments eat up one quarter of public spending but the burden stems from high domestic debt. Egypt's total external borrowing was just $35 billion or less than 15 percent of GDP, as of June 2011.
  • Military aid has benefited U.S. strategic interests by buying priority access to the Suez Canal and to Egyptian air space, as well as support for Middle East peace. Egypt's military view the payments as "untouchable compensation" for making peace with Israel, according to documents published by Wikileaks. The aid also supports U.S. defence equipment manufacturers, as the funds must be spent on American hardware and services.
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