New Egyptian Government Gets Terrorist-like Scrutiny from US

Will US Congress let aid reach Egypt? US Capitol building. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Will US Congress let aid reach Egypt? US Capitol building. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Two new governments have been sworn into power in the last week in the Middle East, the new Palestinian one and newly elected President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. Yet while the Palestinian government has the backing of the terrorist Hamas group, both the Palestinian group and al-Sisi seem to be held to the same level of United States scrutiny as of this time.

Whether or not the US accepts the governments is more than just a political question, as the US is a huge financial supporter of both the Palestinians and Egypt. But according to the US State Department, in press conferences late last week, neither Egypt nor the Palestinians have been given the full green light for their aid.

Despite giving President Obama’s approval to send military helicopters to Egypt, military aid that was held up following the military coup in that country last year, spokesperson Marie Harf revealed the helicopters still haven’t reached Egypt in the wake of Congressional questions.

Furthermore, there are other elements of military aid that Harf understood to still be frozen. Based on her comments last Thursday, it doesn’t look like the go-ahead is even close to being given.

“There’s no timeline for when we have to make additional decisions about the assistance we haven’t yet certified for Egypt. As I’ve said, those discussions continue. We will make those decisions based on the behavior of the Egyptian Government going forward,” Harf was quoted as saying in the State Department press release.

That “watch and see” approach sounds awfully familiar to the same sentiments expressed about the Palestinian government. In that case, Congress is still determining if aid will be sent to a government supported by Hamas.

One day after her comments on Egypt, the State Department quoted Harf as saying almost the same thing regarding the Palestinians.

“We’ve said we will continue to work with this interim technocratic government, which again does not have any ministers from Hamas in it, but we will continue to judge it by its actions going forward,” said Harf. “I don’t have an update on funding. We’ve said we’ll work with Congress on what this looks like going forward.”

The US is cautious regarding Egypt because of the ongoing political freedom and human rights concerns in that country. But their willingness to keep working with the Palestinians on the technicality that Hamas officials aren’t in the government—despite the fact that Hamas helped form the government—makes the US reticence towards Egypt seem overblown.

In other words, the American’s long-time ally Egyptians—who are important partners in counterterrorism—are themselves receiving the same treatment as a government backed by terrorists.

Israel was quick to congratulate Sis on winning the election, and Ahram Online noted that Russia sent a senior legislative official to Sisi’s swearing-in ceremony. The US sent officials as representatives as well, but actions speak louder than appearances.

In other words, if we notice the political mistreatment of Egypt’s government, Egypt doubtless can too. One can expect the Russians to take advantage.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, June 8, 2014)

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