The president and Congress should also seriously consider eliminating our over $1 billion in foreign aid to Egypt.
What is our aid gaining us there?
Some would argue that reducing or eliminating aid to Egypt would reduce or eliminate American influence in Egypt and perhaps even give the Islamist government there a pretext to withdrawal from the Camp David Accords.
But the influence our aid supposedly buys wasn’t even significant enough to get the Egyptian army protect our embassy from attack on Sept. 11, 2012. It’s not like the attack on the embassy was unforeseeable. As Middle East scholars Eric Trager and David Schenker have pointed out, the jihadi terrorist group al Gama’a al-Islamiyya had publicly announced that it planned to protest in front of the embassy on Sept. 11, so there is little excuse for why the Egyptian government didn’t plan to beef up security.
As for Egypt breaking the Camp David Accords if we cut off aid, they may do so anyway. In any case, we are constantly told that Egypt wouldn’t move toward conflict with Israel because the government and the military are rational and they know they would lose any such confrontation. I am skeptical that an Islamist Egypt wouldn’t move towards conflict with Israel, but if the regime is indeed rational, it shouldn’t matter whether we give them aid in terms of whether or not they abide by Camp David, or at least in terms of whether they will refrain from fomenting conflict with Israel. If it’s not in the regime’s interest to start a skirmish with Israel when we are giving them aid, it won’t be in their interest to do so if we cut our aid off.
Egypt has historically been a very important player in the Arab world and I am not saying we should move hastily to cut off aid. But we should get tough and make it clear that the option is being seriously considered unless the Egyptian government changes course. Among the things we ought to demand in order to continue the money flow is that Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi publicly reject his 9/11 trutherism; apologize to the United States for what happened to our embassy last Tuesday and explain why the Egyptian military did not protect it; and pledge that he will ensure that the Egyptian army protects our embassy from such attacks in the future.
I think we are headed for further disaster in Egypt (I said so at the time of the revolution) and I think that it is becoming increasingly clear — as it should have been from the start — that we will ultimately not be able to work with the Islamists in control of the government. But the ball is in their court. We are a pretty valuable relationship to have. Especially after the events of last Tuesday, Egypt should have to prove to us they are worth our support.