Friday, 23 March 2012 17:05

Egyptians' Dislike for United States Grows Even as U.S. Aid Flows

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Over a year has passed since the “Arab Spring” came to Egypt, and the evidence continues to accumulate demonstrating that what has come of last year’s revolution is bringing a "chill" to the relationship between the United States and Egypt.

As reported in mid-February, Clinton’s State Department is seeking special funding to promote “Arab Spring” reforms throughout the Middle East. However, the Egyptian people who purportedly benefited from last year’s revolution have come out of that experience with a rapidly worsening view of the United States. A March 23 article by Susan Jones for CNSNews documents the steady decline in Egyptian public opinion when it comes to the United States:

A majority of Egyptians (56%) now see closer relations with the U.S. as a bad thing for their country, up sharply from 40% in December 2011, a Gallup poll says.

Egyptians are now more likely to favor closer ties with Turkey and Iran than with the United States, the poll found.

Only 28 percent of Egyptians said closer relations with the U.S. are a good thing.

The conflict in February between the U.S. and Egyptian governments over the status of workers for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) increased tensions between the two nations. When the Egyptian regime announced its intention to prosecute workers for two NGOs affiliated with the American Republican and Democratic political parties, the United States threatened to cut off billions of dollars in U.S. military aid. However, not all of the decline in Egyptian public opinion can be attributed to that conflict, and that would not account for the increasingly favorable view Egyptians have of Islamist regimes — and other governments that are steadily moving in an Islamist direction, such as Turkey. According to the Gallup Poll:

Egyptians are now more likely to see promise in closer ties with Turkey and Iran than with the U.S. A solid majority of Egyptians (60%) say closer relations with Turkey would be a good thing for Egypt, while 19% say it would be a bad thing. Forty-one percent of Egyptians say closer ties with Iran would be a good thing and 38% say they would be a bad thing.

As an emerging power player in Arab world affairs, Turkey is looking for ways to cooperate with the new Egypt. While Egyptians favor closer ties with Turkey, they do not necessarily approve of Turkey's leadership. The 37% of Egyptians who approve of the Turkey's leadership is up significantly from 15% in April 2011, but a sizable 44% disapprove.

However, a 22-percent increase in less than one year in the favorable eye with which Egyptians view an increasingly Islamist regime in Turkey is far from encouraging, no matter how such data might be interpreted.

However, the increasingly Islamist orientation of the Egyptian people and parliament will apparently not prove to be an impediment to the ongoing flow of American aid. As FoxNews reports:

Hillary Clinton is to announce Friday that Egypt will continue to receive US funding tied to the nation's transition to democracy, and will confirm Cairo is meeting its responsibilities under a peace treaty with Israel.

The US Secretary of State's announcements were in line with maintaining a strategic partnership with the north African nation, a senior State Department official confirmed to FOX News Channel.

"On the democracy side, Egypt has made more progress in 16 months than in the last 60 years," the official said, citing free and fair elections and a transfer of power to the new People's Assembly.

Given the opportunity to democratically choose their own representatives, the overwhelmingly Muslim populace of Egypt elected a parliament largely filled with radical Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood, members of the Salafist Al-Nour Party. As observed in a February 28 article for The New American, Islamists are now a clear majority in both the lower and upper houses of Egypt’s parliament:

The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party took 58 percent of the available seats in the upper house of Egypt’s parliament, while the even more extremist Salafist Al-Nour party took a quarter of the seats. In all, more than 80 percent of the contended seats in Egypt’s upper parliament are now in the hands of Muslim extremists.…

The polarization manifested in the Egyptians election was between Muslim extremists and those favoring a more secular approach to governance, and the electorate overwhelmingly rejected the secularist approach. As noted in a recent article for the Jerusalem Post, the Muslim Brotherhood won 38 percent of the seats in the “People’s Assembly,” and Al-Nour took 27 percent — a decisive majority.

While anonymous State Department officials speak of the rise of Islamist political power as "democratic progress," CNSNews reports that the Obama administration’s decision to aid the Egyptian regime is going forward with the tacit acknowledgment that a "waiver" will be needed in exchange for actual democracy:

The poll, released on Friday, comes as the Obama administration announced it will waive democracy requirements so it can send up to $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt, despite concerns that the country is backsliding on its commitments to democracy and the rule of law.

According to the Associated Press, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has decided that it is in the U.S. national interest to allow $1.3 billion in military assistance to flow to Egypt. She also certified that Egypt is meeting its obligations to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, which frees up an additional $200 million in economic aid.

While billions of dollars in U.S. aid continue to flow to Egypt, Israel, and numerous other nations around the world, the actual benefit procured by the United States by means of such largesse remains doubtful. What is clear is that the fall of Mubarak has moved the Egyptian government and a majority of Egyptians closer to regimes that are increasingly hostile to the United States. 

Photo: AP Images

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