It has been announced that the United States will resume military aid to Egypt. In fact, the announcement came from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, in many public statements over the years, has claimed to uphold women’s rights.
This decision, which is contrary to the stance that Congress has taken against the Egyptian military junta (called SCAF), smacks of political expediency in the guise of “national security interests,” at the expense of human rights and democracy in Egypt. It undermines the pro-democracy ideals and the struggle to pressure SCAF to transfer power to civilian rule.
In a recent public speech, I actually said that: “The U.S. must wean itself from any residue of ‘Cold War’ era thinking and policies. The slate has been erased clean.”
And, in my December 2004 interview with pro-democracy activist Saad Eddine Ibrahim, in response to my question about what the US role should be pertaining to democratization in Egypt, he unequivocally stated: “to avoid support for dictators, even if they still appear as friends.”
This decision to resume military aid to Egypt’s military junta resembles Cold War era policies. It also conveys the message that policy makers have learned nothing from history. Throwing money at a power broker does not translate into actual sound and sincere policies coming out of that entity.
But, what’s worse is that this is the same regime that has violated so many women, including with the atrocious “virginity tests” of detainees, and then recently acquitting the “doctor” who performed them. Under the watch of this regime, women have been assaulted with what can only be described as gang rape. From Egyptian women, to foreign correspondents, like Lara Logan, working for the news media, all have been victims of these vicious assaults. And remember the young woman wearing the blue bra? Her brutal beating and stripping was caught on video. This regime is also responsible for the deaths of many innocent people. This regime has also tried repeatedly to undermine the pro-democracy movement, at times in the most ominous and sinister ways.
And yet, we reward them with $1.3 billion in military aid? That’s absurd.
Supposedly, this deal has to do with preserving the “integrity” of the 1978 Camp David Accords, the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement signed between the late President Anwar al-Sadat, Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and mediated by US President Jimmy Carter. The accords led to a cold peace, rather than warm normalization of relations between Egypt and Israel, but nonetheless, it has prevented the outbreak of hostilities over the years. That might the key ingredient that matters most to the US and Israel right now. The accords have come with years of US foreign aid to Israel, the top recipient, followed by Egypt. However, it’s hard to convince me that there are no alternatives to dumping more money in the laps of the military generals in Egypt, especially in the current political climate.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy agrees. According to Al Jazeera –
“Patrick Leahy, the Democratic senator who sponsored the legislation that tied conditions to aid [to Egypt], said he was ‘disappointed’ by Clinton’s decision.
‘I know Secretary Clinton wants the democratic transition in Egypt to succeed, but by waiving the conditions we send a contradictory message,’ Leahy said in a statement.
‘The Egyptian military should be defending fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, not harassing and arresting those who are working for democracy,’ he said.
Now that she has taken her decision, he said, Clinton should release funds in increments as Egypt demonstrates its commitment toward democracy following the revolution that overthrew former president Hosni Mubarak in February last year.”
Meanwhile, an Egyptian military court has acquitted and will release Ayman Zawahiri’s brother, Mohammed Zawahiri, along with a militant convicted of planning attacks in Egypt, Mohammed Islambouli, brother of Khaled, who killed Sadat. According to Dawn Newspaper –
“In 1998, Zawahiri and Islambouli were sentenced on charges of undergoing military training in Albania and planning military operations in Egypt.
…The trial also acquitted several other former militants, including Sayyed Imam Fadl, once the spiritual leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and mentor of Ayman al-Zawahiri.
But Fadl, like the others acquitted, had shunned violence in the late 1990s and engaged in a war of letters with Ayman al-Zawahiri, denouncing Al Qaeda’s use of violence.
Islambouli returned from exile in Iran after a popular uprising overthrew president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, joining a number of Egyptian Islamist militants returning to the country after the ouster of their nemesis.”
For each baby step forward, there are giant leaps backward. And, while militants, or supposedly “ex-militants,” are being acquitted and released, the worst of the violators of women and men continue to never see the inside of a jail cell. This is contrary to American values of human rights and justice, and by giving the military junta money, we are sending the wrong message. Have we learned nothing since the Cold War?
NOTE: Everything I write in this blog constitutes my personal opinions and views.