Should U.S. cut off Egypt, other nations tied to terror?

2013-07-01T00:00:00Z Should U.S. cut off Egypt, other nations tied to terror?Farid Senzai Arizona Daily Star
July 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Those who would like the United States to back off its 2011 pledge to provide $1 billion in aid to Egypt, because of fears the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party rules the government, are failing to see the long-term advantages to the United States of such aid.

By continuing to support Egypt through the cash infusions, military assistance and loan guarantees for Americans doing business in Egypt, the United States can accomplish three major objectives:

• Help ensure that one of the most important players in the Middle East remains a U.S. ally.

• Use the leverage from the aid to ensure Egypt honors its Camp David peace treaty with Israel.

• Send a clear, unambiguous message to newly democratizing countries that their elections will be honored by America regardless of the outcome.

First, whether we like it or not, the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood is here to stay and will play a major role in Egyptian politics for years.

America's goal should be to encourage peaceful political participation through electoral means, not to punish the country for electing an Islamist party. The Muslim Brotherhood represents an important political force among a new segment of participatory Islamists.

While we may not agree with all their policy decisions, the fact remains that the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the more moderate manifestations of political Islam. It sends a hypocritical message to cut off ties to a democratically elected government after providing aid to authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak for more than 30 years.

Second, the aid will not undermine our support for Israel, which has been the beneficiary of a disproportionate level of American aid - $118 billion in aid since World War II, according to the Congressional Research Service - relative to Egypt.

By law, all assistance to Egypt is contingent on the country's meeting certain requirements, including adherence to basic democratic values and maintaining the peace treaty with Israel.

In fact, cutting U.S. aid will likely alter Egypt's calculation with Israel: To a large extent, the aid provides the necessary motivation for the Egyptian government to support the Camp David Accords.

Third, the aid will enhance and build on our relationship with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and that will improve our standing among other Arab and Muslim countries.

The $1.3 billion in military assistance that we provide to Egypt is good for America, since much of it comes back to the military industry and corporations such as Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics for equipment and services, as well as the local communities across the country that rely on these industries.

No: Aid furthers 3 important goals

Editor's note

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

Farid Senzai is assistant professor of political science at Santa Clara University and director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a think tank focused on Muslim issues.

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

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