4 Reasons Why US Shouldn’t Reduce Aid to Egypt

I wrote this piece for AlMonitor.  I tried to provide an Egyptian  perspective on the U.S. military aid reduction move

It’s hard to find any written analysis about America and Egypt without mention of the $1.3 billion aid package the United States delivers annually to the Egyptian military. Following the 2011 Arab Spring, the general debate in the United States focused on how America could help the Middle East in its time of upheaval. However, things have changed recently. In Syria, instead of focusing on the overall stability of the Levant, the debate has shrunk to a discussion about President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons. In Egypt, the debate that once concentrated on ways in which the United States could help that country’s emerging democracy has now shifted to military aid.

Last May, despite concerns about President Mohammed Morsi’s leadership abilities, US Secretary of State John Kerry quietly approved a huge arms shipment to Egypt. Later, after Morsi was ousted, the United States canceled a joint military exercise with Egypt but continued to provide aid. Now, following the recent turmoil, US officials have said that they will withhold the shipment of a dozen AH-64D Apache helicopters Egypt ordered four years ago. It has been increasingly frustrating to see such a crucial subject being debated under the false trilemma of keeping, slashing or cutting aid.

To continue reading click here

About nervana111

Doctor, blogger and Commentator on Middle East issues. The only practising doctor who write in Middle Eastern politics in UK.
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5 Responses to 4 Reasons Why US Shouldn’t Reduce Aid to Egypt

  1. rupertbu2013 says:

    All that you write is correct, plus of course US weapons lobby will ensure the aid/self-serving-subsidy is restored.

    “The Arab awakening may have been a tragic and disappointing journey, but at least it taught people that the mess is their own, and that they are the only ones who can sort it out.” – will they, without external interference/support?


  2. Sunni Khalid says:

    Dear Nervana:
    I agree with most, if not all, of your points. But I am on the opposite side of this argument. I think the U.S. should suspend most military assistance to Egypt, regardless of the government in power, because it is a waste of resources. The Egyptian military is a joke. It is a conventional force without any real enemies. It’s greatest security threat is in the Sinai. And, as we’ve seen, a conventional force there is ineffective at best. The Army has made all of its preparations over the decades to confront another conventional army there (Israel), not an insurgency. Its attempts to crush the jihadist insurgency there have been and will continue to be unsuccessful. An conventional army, which moves clumsily, will never win there. Only a well-trained, counter-insurgency force can have any hope of doing so and that is currently beyond Egypt’s military capabilities.
    What the Egyptian army needs to do is re-focus, adapt its military doctrine and train its forces for the kind of war they are facing. Slow, long columns of armored vehicles, containing poorly-trained and poorly-trained troops will never win in the Sinai.
    The Apache helicopters WOULD help, but, when I lived in Egypt, I knew several American military contractors well, including a couple of whom worked with the Egyptian air force. Egyptian pilots simply could not competently operate helicopters or high-performance aircraft, let alone against another air forces. Egyptian pilots, selected from prominent military families, simply don’t perform well or log enough hours of flight time to be competitive.
    Even if they have increased their performance, maintaining aircraft has always been a major problem for the Egyptian air force. Under contract, the US provides spare parts and maintainence for a one-year period after the sale and delivery of military aircraft. After that, it’s up to the Egyptians. Many of the aircraft the Egyptian army has bought over the years from the Americans and others are quickly rendered out-of-service and are cannibalized for spare parts. High performance, sophisticated aircraft are “trophies,” but have little utility to an air force that has few challenges.
    The Egyptians are not going to fight — and lose — to the Israelis, again. The early days of the October 1973 war are long past. Back then, the Egyptian army and air force fought with skill, determination and courage. It was a different Egypt and a different era. Israel is at least TWO GENERATIONS ahead of the Egyptian military and would quickly and thoroughly defeat the army and air forces in any confrontation. If Egypt is not arming itself to fight Israel, then what do they need this billion-dollar military program for? Especially one where eight of every $10 is spent in the United States?
    Egypt is not going to fight Libya or the Sudan. The only opposition that the Egyptian army will face is its own people. That high-priced weaponry is being brandished against its own people. As always, Enemy No. 1 of the Egyptian Army is the Egyptian people, whether they are supporters of the unlamented Morsi, the divided secular opposition, or average, every day Egyptians.
    I think the question is not whether the U.S. should suspend aid to Egypt’s new government, but whether any Egyptian government should have a half-million men under arms, or a leadership of corrupt generals, who control anywhere from 15-40-percent of the national economy. The reason for sending massive amounts of military aid to Egypt (the pay-off to Sadat for agreeing to the Camp David accords) no longer applies. The large, clumsy Egyptian army is no longer “the pride of the nation,” but an economic and political burden on Egypt. The United States should no longer enable the Egyptian military to waste money and resources that could be better spent on the behalf of its people.


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