Should the US cut aid to Egypt? No, Morsi could help end conflict

2012-09-10T00:00:00Z 2012-10-02T14:55:37Z Should the US cut aid to Egypt? No, Morsi could help end conflict Arizona Daily Star
September 10, 2012 12:00 am

Editor's note: Every Monday we offer pro/con pieces from the McClatchy-Tribune News Service to give readers a broad view of issues.

Recent activity by Egypt's new president gives no reason to cut aid to Egypt or to take other measures.

Egypt's recently elected president, Mohammed Morsi, did, to be sure, choose to attend a meeting of the Non-Aligned Nations in Tehran, and his attendance rankled the United States because we are trying to isolate Iran diplomatically over its nuclear development. Morsi's visit to Iran was the first by an Egyptian leader since the 1979 anti-U.S. revolution that brought the current government to power.

On the other side, even though Morsi attended the Tehran get-together, he did not confer with Iranian leaders or change Egypt's formal relationship with Iran. Iran and Egypt have no diplomatic relations, and Morsi did not suggest re-establishing them. And Morsi's Tehran visit did not play out in the way U.S. officials feared. Far from using his visit to cozy up to the Iranian leadership, he shocked his Iranian hosts by addressing the Syria situation. He called the govern-ment of Bashar Assad an "oppressive regime." Iran is a major backer of Assad.

Morsi did not mince words. "We express our solidarity with the struggle of the Syrian people against an oppressive regime that has lost legitimacy," he told the delegates. "The blood of the Syrian people is on our necks, and it will not stop unless there is an intervention by all of us."

So if the United States was worried that Morsi would put himself in the Iranian camp, he dispelled any such fears.

Morsi may not, to be sure, be on the same page as the United States on Syria, beyond opposition to the current leadership. The Syrian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood is banned by Assad, and Morsi may hope for a role for it in a post-Assad Syria.

The United States has to accept a realignment in the Middle East. Morsi, as a president coming out of the Muslim Brotherhood, is not always going to act consistent with U.S. policy.

While the United States was not happy with the outcome of the election that brought Morsi into office, it has, to its credit, refrained from trying to reverse the consequence of that election.

The fact that Morsi may not be in sync with the United States may in the longer term not be so bad. We have been singularly unsuccessful in resolving the Israel-Palestine situation.

Morsi in particular, with ties to the Hamas leadership in Gaza, may be able to broker a peace deal more effectively than we have been. His activities do not give reason to re-examine U.S. aid to Egypt. But the aid we give Egypt dates from the Egypt-Israel Camp David accord of 1979. We gave aid to Egypt as a counterweight to the aid to Israel.

The aid we give to both countries is politically motivated, rather than needs-based. Aid to Egypt should be viewed from that perspective. If Egypt aid is to be cut, aid to Israel should be on the chopping block as well.

John B. Quigley is a professor of law at The Ohio State University. Readers may write to him at Moritz College of Law, 55 West 12th St., Columbus, Ohio 43210.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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