US halts aid for Egypt over protests
Published Tuesday, September 18, 2012
The protests that erupted in Cairo over an anti-Islam Internet video have stalled talks on relieving $1 billion worth of Egyptian debt to the United States, the Washington Post reported.
The debt relief was intended to provide crucial economic aid to Egypt's newly elected government as it grapples with daunting economic challenges in the wake of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak.
But the Post on Monday cited US officials as saying Egypt can expect little relief – at least until after the November 6 US presidential vote – after Cairo's delayed response to last week's violent protest outside the US embassy in Cairo and as similar demonstrations continue across the region.
"Folks are going to wait and see how things materialize both with the protests and on Capitol Hill," it quoted a congressional aide as saying.
The Post said the delay was likely to be temporary, and that there was no major reconsideration of US aid to Egypt, which amounts to some $1.5 billion per year.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had earlier told reporters that the administration was working with Congress on aid to support "forces of moderation, change, democracy (and) openness in Egypt."
Egyptian forces were slow to react when demonstrators attacked the US embassy last Tuesday, scaling the walls, tearing down the American flag and hoisting a black Islamist flag in its place.
US President Barack Obama called his newly elected Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Mursi to express concern about the incident and told an interviewer that Egypt's new government was neither an ally nor an enemy.
Revolutionaries highlight Islamist hypocrisy
Islamist willingness to deal with the US, despite holding anti-American protests, was pointed out by Egypt's Revolutionary Socialists Movement (RSM), one of the many youth groups that led last year's revolution that ousted Mubarak.
"At the same time as they ignite anger against America, the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis insist on the maintenance of diplomatic, economic and military relations with the USA," it said in a statement.
"Nor are they taking any genuine steps to stop co-operation with this imperialist regime, or making any serious effort to cancel the shameful peace treaty with the Zionist entity which squanders national independence."
The RSM highlighted the Muslim Brotherhood's destruction of Gaza's smuggling tunnels, which are crucial for the besieged territory's local economy, as an example of the Islamists' strengthening "links of cooperation" with the US and Israel.
While the RSM condemned the "attacks on religious sites and symbols, whether Muslim or Christian," it warned that the current anti-US protests should not "substitute for the mass struggle from below for independence and national liberation" from "US imperialism".