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WASHINGTON – Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces wants to send a strong message to Washington not to interfere in its internal affairs and has taken to court 43 non-governmental organization workers, 16 of whom are Americans. One of the Americans is the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, according to a report inJoseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
As a result, the U.S. Congress is threatening to cut off some $1.5 billion in annual foreign assistance, with $1.3 billion of that amount going to the military. The SCAF’s action, analysts say, is designed to show the United States the limits in dictating how Egypt manages its transition to democracy.
In recent parliamentary elections, the Islamist groups Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists won a majority of the seats. Presidential elections are scheduled for June. The military believes the NGOs have been interfering in the Egyptian democratic process and has taken action against them, claiming they were not registered.
The military also was concerned, analysts say, that the NGOs had been talking about eliminating the military altogether from the leadership role in Egyptian politics, a role it has held for more than 60 years.
The Egyptian military especially sees Washington using its NGOs – the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute – as a means of destabilizing the Egyptian government. These NGOs regard themselves as promoting democracy and human rights.
Now, the Egyptian military needs to consider whether it can live without that $1.3 billion a year from the U.S. Along with it comes the other baggage of limits imposed on that aid and having to contend with the NGOs.
Analysts believe that because the majority of Egyptians oppose the relationship with Washington, the SCAF will have support if the current standoff results in a crisis in the strategic relationship which has been in existence since the 1978 Camp David Accords with Israel.
Some analysts believe the SCAF won’t push the current confrontation with Washington to the breaking point but could use its hardened position as a bargaining chip for further concessions in the future.
The Obama administration already has signaled that it opposes any such cutoff of aid or conditioning it on Egypt’s transition to democracy. Instead, it regards the strategic relationship with Egypt as more important.
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