USAID, the government agency in charge of distributing tax dollars to foreign aid projects, once again is being hit with allegations and audits exposing how fraud and corruption are undermining its programs.
Though the government says it’s taking “steps” to address the problems, the multiple reports reflect a decades-long problem with how USAID money is administered and, critics say, how little has been done to fix it.
[...] On Thursday, USAID chief Rajiv Shah acknowledged during a speech at the Brookings Institution that the government agency has to do “a more focused job of delivering” on its agenda.
Shah outlined the agency’s new three-part plan to help extreme poverty in the world. He said USAID would focus on more public-private partnerships and country programs and demand mutual levels of accountability between other countries and the U.S. He also said the challenges his organization is “grappling” with include understanding “how to fight corruption in fragile environments — even as you want to make rapid gains in health and welfare.”
The swift US humanitarian response to the devastation of Super Typhoon Haiyan highlights the need to expand America’s military presence in the Philippines, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Monday.
He said a proposed agreement to strengthen the US military presence, which was being negotiated as the storm struck on Nov. 8, would allow for the easier delivery of relief aid by US forces in the future.
[...] The proposed deal would allow more US troops, aircraft and ships to pass through the Philippines at a time when Washington is refocusing its attention on Asia.
It had also been seen as a counterweight to Chinese moves in the South China Sea, where Beijing has territorial disputes with US ally Manila.
Despite months of talks, the Philippine and US governments have failed to sign the agreement due to some differences in their respective positions.
However the United States, particularly its military, has burnished its image in the former US colony through its extensive relief work after the typhoon ravaged the central Philippine islands, leaving almost 7,000 dead or missing.
Last week I wrote about the potential for the Obama administration’s Asia-Pivot strategy to inflame anti-colonialist sentiment. I lamented that Washington tries simply to get around this popular opposition to the military surge in East Asia instead of acknowledging that people don’t like to be occupied by foreign militaries.
Cynically, the U.S. has exploited the suffering of the typhoon in the Philippines in order to gain leverage in negotiations with Manila over increased U.S. military presence there. The relief operations performed by U.S. forces are seen as helping to “lubricate” the deal for basing rights, which are one piece of a broader plan to contain a rising China.
According to Robert Farley at The Diplomat, the process of “establishing forward U.S. bases in the Philippines…has moved slowly, largely because of domestic concerns in Manila about a military U.S. presence.”
“Fortunately for U.S. strategic interests (if not the victims of the storm),” Farley writes, “the U.S. Navy’s support in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan may win sufficient goodwill to overcome local opposition to a renewed U.S. military role.”
[...] For Washington and it’s helpful D.C. policy wonks, the task is not to acknowledge and respect the fact that foreign populations don’t want to be occupied by a non-native military. Instead, the task is to figure out how to get around this inconvenient obstruction.
This is why the humanitarian disaster following the Philippine typhoon is so politicized. Washington intends to give $20 million in relief and the U.S. military arrived quickly to assist in emergency relief operations. In contrast, China is sending less than $2 million in relief and has been much less visible. Washington is exploiting the humanitarian crisis in order to make U.S. military presence more palatable.
The American aircraft carrier George Washington has arrived, its 5,000 sailors and 80 aircraft already busy ferrying relief supplies to storm-battered survivors, and the United States has committed an initial $20 million in humanitarian assistance. Japan is dispatching a naval force of 1,000 troops, in what officials say is that country’s largest ever disaster-relief deployment. Also on the way: the Illustrious, a British aircraft carrier stocked with transport planes, medical experts and $32 million worth of aid.
The outpouring of foreign assistance for the hundreds of thousands left homeless and hungry by Typhoon Haiyan is shaping up to be a monumental show of international largess — and a not-so-subtle dose of one-upmanship directed at the region’s fastest-rising power, China.
China, which has its own newly commissioned aircraft carrier and ambitions of displacing the United States, the dominant naval power in the Pacific, has been notably penurious. Beijing increased its total contribution to the relief effort to $1.6 million on Thursday after its initial pledge of $100,000 was dismissed as stingy, even by some state-backed news media in the country.
The typhoon, described as the most devastating natural calamity to hit the Philippines in recent history, is emerging as a showcase for the soft-power contest in Asia. The geopolitical tensions have been stoked by China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and heightened by American efforts to reassert its influence in the region.
China has showered aid on countries it considers close friends, becoming the largest lender in Africa, rushing to help Pakistan after an earthquake in September and showing a more humanitarian side to its neighbors in Asia. But the typhoon struck hardest at the country China considers its biggest nemesis in the legal, diplomatic and sometimes military standoff over control of tiny but strategic islands in the South China Sea.
The U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee has endorsed a $488 million increase in military aid to Israel, which would pay for Israel’s procurement and development of additional rocket and missile interception systems.
The committee last week approved the defense authorization bill proposal submitted by its chairman, California Republican Howard McKeon. According to the wording of the proposal, the U.S. will allocate another $268 million to Israel in 2014 for the development of two interception systems: the Arrow 3, which intercepts long-range missiles, and the Magic Wand, which intercepts medium-range missiles.
This is a larger investment than initially planned. The bill also states that a further $220 million will be allocated in 2014 to finance the purchase of extra batteries for the Iron Dome missile defense system. The proposal must now be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations. It will be submitted to the Senate at a later stage.
Israel currently has five Iron Dome batteries. The plan will give Israel another five batteries by the end of next year.
The U.S. also gives Israel $3.1 billion in military aid annually. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel promised that this would not be reduced even while significant cuts are being made to the U.S. defense budget.
Despite frequent disputes with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government regarding the peace process with the Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear threat, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration continues to be extraordinarily generous when it comes to granting military aid. Israeli defense officials see last week’s decision as further evidence of the strength of the relationship between the two countries.
President Obama’s October 9th decision to suspend millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Egypt came after two years of intense public pressure following Mubarak’s ouster. In all likelihood, however, it is probably a temporary scheme to avoid further public allegations that Obama supports the dictatorial coup regime in Egypt.
But it may have been even more cynical than that. One of the biggest problems with U.S. military aid to Egypt is the small arms and riot gear that security forces use to disperse crowds of peaceful protesters or crack down more generally on the population’s democratic ambitions. This type of aid may not be included in the suspension, but it’s hard to know because unless the arms transfer is a multi-million dollar war plane, they often are not even publicly disclosed.
Amnesty International lays out what Obama needs to do for the suspension of Egypt aid to actually mean something. Geoffrey Mock says “It’s time to ensure that Egyptian human rights violations don’t come labeled ‘Made in the USA.,’” and lists recommendations Amnesty has sent in a letter to the White House.
- U.S. lawmakers criticize Egypt aid cuts, consider changing law (Reuters)
- Egypt’s lobby by proxy wields outsize influence in DC (Al Jazeera)
- ‘Israel bluntly told the US not to cut aid to Egypt’ (Times of Israel)
- Egypt FM: Relations With US in ‘Turmoil’ Since Military Aid Cuts (Antiwar)
- Egypt sends delegation to Russia, rejects US pressure (Egypt Independent)
- Egypt ‘looking to Russia’ for arms after US aid freeze (Times of Israel)
- European Union calls on Egypt to lift state of emergency (MEMO)
- GOP senator holds up $60M in economic aid to Egypt (AP)
- Egyptian coup leaders hire US lobbyist with ties to Israel (MEMO)
Funds intended to help the world’s neediest have been spent on providing training and equipment to the police force and border guards of Belarus, an autocracy run along Soviet lines.
The aid, supplied by the European Union’s EuropeAid programme, to which Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) is a major donor, came despite violent action against the pro-democracy opposition.
The Foreign Office has expressed grave concern at the imprisonment and abuse of dissidents and also at the use of the death penalty, while an EU arms embargo has been put in place. However, the EU increased aid payments to Belarus to more than £32 million last year, including millions of pounds on projects to reinforce the country’s western borders.
By suspending military aid to Egypt, Washington is pressing Cairo to end the bloodshed on the streets but its largely “symbolic” act is unlikely to have a concrete impact, analysts say.
They say the “half-measured” move reflects the lack of a clear US foreign policy on Egypt, where a political crisis since strongman Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011 has worsened after the July 3 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
On Wednesday, Washington suspended deliveries of major military hardware and cash assistance of $260 million to the Egyptian military, which ousted Morsi in a coup.
The decision will stop deliveries of big-ticket items such as Apache helicopters, F-16 fighters, M1A1 Abrams tank parts and Harpoon missiles.
Washington says the suspension will remain in place until Egypt moves towards an elected and “inclusive” democratic civilian government.
The Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (CPSA) is meant to bar the United States from providing military assistance to countries who have “governmental armed forces or government- supported armed groups, including paramilitaries, militias, or civil defense forces, that recruit and use child soldiers.” As per the Optional Protocol on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, “child soldiers” include children under 18 who have been forced into service, those under 15 who have volunteered to fight, and and those under 18 who have joined up with any force aside from an army. It also includes those who serve in a “support role such as a cook, porter, messenger, medic, guard, or sex slave.”
A national security interest waiver was built into the law, however, giving the President the authority to override the law should he deem it necessary to do so. That’s precisely what the Obama administration did on Monday, issuing blanket waivers to three countries known to use child soldiers: Yemen, Chad, and South Sudan. Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo received partial waivers as well; this means that they’ll be granted lethal aid only in support of the peacekeeping missions currently ongoing in the country.
This year, the State Department issued a list of ten countries that had been found to be using child soldiers: Burma (Myanmar), the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Of those, seven were due to receive military aid from the United States, an action which the CPSA barred — for the most part.
A total of 252 individuals and entities were blacklisted from January to July 2013, while only 65 such instances were recorded in 2012.
The World Bank is keen to clamp down on misbehaviour with $200bn (£125.5bn, €150bn) given to finance development projects in the world’s poorest states over since 2008. Some estimates put stolen aid at $40bn.
[...] The reported sanctions reveal a number of patterns with five sectors that make up two-thirds of the bank’s reported sanction decisions.
These sectors were healthcare, transportation, agriculture, energy and water.
Regions also represented certain noteworthy trends on the spread of corruption across the globe.
Africa was found to amount to one-third of investigations and the vast majority of cases to date involved fraud.
Furthermore, 29% of debarred firms were located in North America, while 21% were in Europe and central Asia.
In terms of other offences that do not cover bid rigging, fraud and bribery but other wrongdoing known as “sanctionable practices”, 91 entities received other sanctions in the seven months of 2013 compared to 5 in 2012 and 1 in 2011.
“That review has not concluded and … published reports to the contrary that assistance to Egypt has been cut off are not accurate,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing.
U.S. president Barack Obama is set to meet on Tuesday with his national security team to discuss Egypt.
Earnest’s comments on U.S. assistance follow media reports, citing a U.S. senator that the United States had quietly decided to temporarily suspend most military aid to Egypt following the military takeover.
While under review, the aid has not halted, he said. “Assistance is provided episodically. Assistance is provided in tranches,” Earnest added.
- Poll: Americans criticize Obama on Egypt, want aid cut off (Washington Post)
- Cairo Military Firmly Hooked to U.S. Lifeline (NY Times)
- Egypt Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi: Cutting aid ’bad sign’ (Politico)
- Neocon Princelings Kristol, Kagan Split on Egypt (Jim Lobe)
- McCain: U.S. has ‘no credibility’ in Egypt (USA Today)
- With Gulf aid, Egypt economy can limp through crisis (Reuters)
- Arab states ready to cover any cuts in aid to Egypt: Saudi Arabia (Egypt Independent)
- EU to ‘urgently review’ its relations with Egypt (AP)
The Obama administration is “reprogramming” some funds to Egypt while a review is underway — in effect, temporarily holding up some military aid to the country, a U.S. official said.
A spokesman for Sen. Patrick Leahy, David Carle, confirmed to CNN his office has been told the aid has been halted. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, is chairman of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee.
The United States gives about $1.23 billion in military aid to Egypt.
But the U.S. official emphasized no decision has been made to permanently halt the aid.
The move means the administration has taken temporary steps that ultimately allow it to move forward on either of two scenarios: pressing ahead with the aid or cutting it off. The source would not detail how the aid was being redirected.
- Senator: Obama Administration Secretly Suspended Military Aid to Egypt (Daily Beast)
- Hagel: US Has ‘Limited’ Influence Over Egypt (The Hill)
- US-Egypt Military Relationship Built to Last (Politico)
- European Union Sets Emergency Session on Suspending Aid to Egypt (NY Times)
- Sympathy for the Devil: Israel’s Efforts on Behalf of Cairo’s Generals (Haaretz)
- Israel Boosts Ties With Egyptian Army as US Mulls Cuts (Bloomberg)
- Saudi Arabia Will Cover Any Western Aid Cuts to Egypt Junta (Antiwar)
- Allies Thwart America in Egypt (WSJ)
The irony is thick: Obama calls on Egypt’s interim government to stop its bloody crackdown on protesters, but continues to give it $1.3 billion a year in military aid.
For decades, Egypt has been one of the largest recipients of US foreign military aid, receiving everything from F-16s to teargas grenades.
So who are the companies reaping the benefits?
1. Lockheed Martin: $259 million
In 2010, Lockheed Martin provided Egypt with 20 F-16s as well as night vision sensor systems for Apache helicopters. Lockheed Martin is the biggest beneficiary of US government defense contracts — receiving a record $36 billion in 2008.
Globally, Lockheed Martin is one of the largest defense contractors. Seventy-four percent of its revenues come from military sales.
2. DRS Technologies: $65.7 million
The US Army contracted this US-operated, Italian-owned military services company to provide vehicles, surveillance hardware and other resources to Egypt in December 2010.
3. L-3 Communication Ocean Systems: $31.3 million
L3 Communications provided the Egyptian government with a $24.7 million sonar system and military imaging equipment.
4. Deloitte Consulting: $28.1 million
Deloitte, the world’s second largest professional services firm, won a $28.1 million Navy contract to provide planning and support for Egyptian aircraft programs.
5. Boeing: $22.8 million
While most people know Boeing for it’s commercial flights, it is also the second largest defense contractor in the world.
Boeing won a $22.5 million Army contract in 2010 to provide Egypt with 10 Apache helicopters. The Aerospace also received a contract to provide logistics support to Egypt.
6. Raytheon: $31.6 million
The world’s largest guided missiles provider gave Egypt and Turkey 178 STINGER missiles, missile launch systems and 264 months of technical support for the Hawk missile system.
7. AgustaWestland: $17.3 million
AgustaWestland — also owned by the same Italian company that operates DRS Technologies — secured a contract to provide helicopter maintenance for the Egyptian government.
8. US Motor Works: $14.5 million
US Motor Works landed a $14.5 million contract in 2009 to provide engines and spare parts for the Egyptian Armament Authority.
9. Goodrich Corp.: $10.8 million
The US Air Force and Goodrich brokered a $10.8 million contract to obtain and distribute reconnaissance systems for the F-16 jets the Egyptian Air Force uses.
10. Columbia Group: $10.6 million
Columbia Group provides $10.6 million-worth of unmanned vehicle systems, along with technical training, to the Egyptian Navy.
- US Aid to Egypt Is About Keeping Suez Canal Open to Warships (Antiwar)
- US arms industry would lose big from Egypt aid cut-off (Press TV)
- Egypt expert: ‘The old guard is back in power’ (DW)
- Israel Escalating Efforts to Shape Allies’ Strategy (New York Times)
- Tamarod aims to ban US aid and cancel Camp David peace treaty (Daily News Egypt)
- McCain and Graham flipflop on aid to Egypt– after AIPAC speaks up (Mondoweiss)
- Senators Join Growing Call to Cut US Aid to Egypt (Antiwar)
- Obama’s Egypt Address: A License to Kill (National Interest)
- Pro-Junta Stance Irreparably Harmed US Credibility in Egypt (Antiwar)
- Egypt expert: ‘The old guard is back in power’ (DW)
- The New Axis of Evil: Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Pentagon Are Backing Egypt’s Bloody Crackdown (Pepe Escobar)
- Over 100 Killed Across Egypt, Three Day Toll Around 750 (Antiwar)
- Mosques Are Becoming Morgues In Egypt (Vice)
- Muslim Brotherhood calls rallies across Egypt after day of bloodshed (Reuters)
- Attacks on Protesters in Cairo Were Calculated to Provoke, Some Say (NY Times)
- Egyptian Media Silences Protests (IPS)
- Egypt: resentment towards Brotherhood fuels crackdown support (Guardian)
- Morsi supporters did NOT push police van off bridge reveals new video (Truthloader)
- Egypt’s tourism faces meltdown as security fears mount (AFP)
- International companies halt operations in Egypt (Times of Israel)
- Egypt’s Christians face unprecedented attacks (Al Jazeera)
- Saudi king backs Egypt’s military rulers (Press TV)
- Israel Keeps a Wary Eye on Turmoil in Egypt (NY Times)
- Palestinians protest Egypt’s bloody crackdown (Times of Israel)
- Turkey denies ‘meddling’ in Egypt affairs as tensions rise (Daily Times)
- Hollande, Merkel call for Egypt talks (The Australian)
- German Politicians, Media Defend the Egyptian Army (WSWS)
- What does the American public want in Egypt? Not much (Washington Post)
The international outrage that was conspicuously lacking during the July military coup in Egypt has finally shown up after police attacked civilian protesters demanding the return of the elected government, killing hundreds and wounding thousands.
The condemnation was virtually universal, with nations across the world denouncing the massacre. Multiple nations, led by Turkey, called for international action, saying it was time for the UN Security Council and the Arab League to step up on a matter they have so far shrugged off.
The Obama Administration, which had so far been cheering the junta on, even issued statements condemning the massacres, with the White House adding a call for the military to “show restraint” in the future.
With President Obama on vacation, the response is being handled mostly by Secretary of State John Kerry, and opponents are quick to note that Kerry had been openly praising the junta just two weeks ago, with Sen. John McCain (R – AZ), one of only a handful of Senators to criticize the coup, saying Kerry bears some responsibility for the crackdown.
Whatever the political fallout domestically, the massacres are another black eye for the US internationally, as the Obama Administration has been seen strongly on the side of military rule, and even overtly defying a US ban on military aid to juntas on the grounds that they wanted to maintain influence with the new rulers. Instead of influence, they may have just bought themselves a piece of the blame.
- Obama cancels U.S. military exercise with Egypt in wake of violence (LA Times)
- Global outcry steps up pressure on US to suspend aid to military (Guardian)
- U.S. Condemns Crackdown but Announces No Policy Shift (NY Times)
- McCain suggests Kerry is partly to blame for violence in Egypt (The Hill)
- ElBaradei Resigns, But Others in Egypt Junta Defend Crackdown (Antiwar)
- Egypt Junta Ousts Last of Civilian Govt, Appoints Generals as ‘Governors’ (Antiwar)
- Witnessing yesterday’s Cairo massacre was shocking and awful (Vice)
- Sky News cameraman Mick Deane shot and killed in Egypt (Guardian)
- As military makes its move, forget about liberal democracy in Egypt (CS Monitor)
- Egypt slaps nighttime curfew on Cairo, 10 regions (Iron Mountain Daily News)
- Shocking photos, video show Egyptian protesters pushing armored police vehicle off bridge (Washington Post)
- Morsi supporters ‘torch three churches’ in Egypt (AFP)
- Shell closes Egypt offices, curbs business travel there (Egyptian Independent)
The dictator and king of Bahrain, also a close friend and ally of the United States, issued this warning ahead of the planned demonstrations: “The government will forcefully confront suspect calls to violate law and order and those who stand behind them through decisive measures.”
You might think, does it violate the law to protest? Yes, it does. The authoritarian government in Bahrain, which has brutally crushed genuine democratic uprisings for more than two years, banned all demonstrations. It is also illegal to “incite hatred” against the security forces (whatever that means), and people can be thrown in prison for calling the king a “dictator” on Twitter (something that has happened to at least eleven people).
The regime uses the Western buzz word “terrorism” to describe anyone they want to suppress.
[...]“The Bahraini regime’s repression has not let up,” I wrote last month in the Huffington Post. “Human rights groups have documented killings, beatings, torture, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, harassment, the destruction of more than 40 Shia mosques… on and on.”
Since Barack Obama took office in 2009, the Bahraini regime has received almost $90 million in direct U.S. aid, but the direct military equipment and training Washington provides exceeds that amount by leaps and bounds. America supports this dictatorship with anti-riot gear, small arms, short-range ballistic missiles, rocket-launchers, Blackhawk helicopters, air-to-air missiles, Stinger shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile, on and on and on, worth billions and billions. “Approximately 250 Bahraini military students attend U.S. military schools each year,” according to a Congressional Research Service report.
[...] After succumbing to pressure to stop aiding Bahrain during its authoritarian repression, President Obama announced in May 2012, after a visit to the White House by Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman, “that, despite continuing concerns about Bahrain’s handling of the unrest, it would open up Bahrain to the purchase of additional U.S. arms for the BDF, Bahrain’s Coast Guard, and Bahrain’s National Guard.”
In December 2012, posters of President Obama with the word “Criminal” emblazoned across his face were put up throughout the Shiite neighborhood of Sitra in Bahrain. Above the photograph was the title “Terrorism is an [sic] U.S. Industry.”
- Tear gas and birdshot fired at demonstrators as violence erupts at protest rallies in Bahrain (Independent)
- Bahrain Protests Fizzle Under Security Clampdown (AP)
- Away From Egypt, Bahrain’s Own Arab Spring Uprising Heats Up Again (Time)
- Blogger and photographer tortured, lawyer held for tweeting about it (Amnesty)
US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Egypt’s military was “restoring democracy” when it ousted elected President Mohammed Morsi last month.
Mr Kerry said the removal was at the request of “millions and millions of people”.
[...] Washington has refused to describe Mr Morsi’s removal as a “coup”. Doing so would require the US government to cut off its estimated $1.5bn (£1bn) in annual aid to Egypt.
Correspondents say Mr Kerry’s latest comments will be seen in Egypt as supportive of the interim government.
- Egypt Protests as US Loudly Backs Coup (Antiwar)
- Ouster of Morsi was not coup, Germany says (Press TV)
- Senate Won’t Consider Ending Egypt Aid (Antiwar)
- Egypt: the hypocrisy of the human-rights industry (Spiked)
- Egypt army seeking ‘peaceful’ way to disperse sit-ins: Spokesman (Ahram)
- Egypt protesters defy cabinet threat to end sit-ins (BBC)
- Ousted Egypt president’s supporters snub offer of protection if they end their protests (Washington Post)
- U.S. declares new push to defuse Egyptian crisis (Reuters)
- Egypt General Has Country Wondering About Aims (NY Times)
Supporters of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan have been getting U.S. military contracts, and American officials are citing “due process rights” as a reason not to cancel the agreements, according to an independent agency monitoring spending.
The U.S. Army Suspension and Debarment Office has declined to act in 43 such cases, John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said today in a letter accompanying a quarterly report to Congress.
“I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract,” Sopko said.
The 236-page report and Sopko’s summary provide one of the watchdog agency’s most critical appraisals of U.S. performance in helping to build a stable Afghanistan as the Pentagon prepares to withdraw combat troops by the end of next year.
“There appears to be a growing gap between the policy objectives of Washington and the reality of achieving them in Afghanistan, especially when the government must hire and oversee contractors to perform its mission,” said Sopko, whose post was mandated by Congress.
The United States still plans to hold a major military exercise called Bright Star in Egypt in mid-September, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday, even after the Egyptian military’s toppling of the president and the violence that has ensued.
“We’re planning on going ahead with it,” Hagel told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
Hagel has been in regular contact with Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi since the military ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on July 3.
The United States has opted against deciding whether to label Mursi’s removal a “coup,” something that would trigger a cut-off in aid and could alienate it from the Egyptian military, which benefits from $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid.
But U.S. ties with Egypt’s armed forces have shown signs of strain, including President Barack Obama’s decision last week to halt delivery of four F-16 fighter jets.
- Obama asks Republican Senators McCain, Graham to visit Egypt (Reuters)
- US keeping Egypt on track for Israel: Senator Graham (Press TV)
- White House on Egypt Massacre: No Comment (Antiwar)
- Egypt: Jihadists Used US-Made Missile to Attack Sinai Base (Antiwar)
- U.S. Balancing Act With Egypt Grows Trickier (NY Times)
- UN says accord reached on Syria chemical arms (Al Jazeera)
- US ‘Vetting’ in Syria Boils Down to a Handshake (Antiwar)
- Assad opponents see U.S. distancing itself from their goals in Syria (McClatchy)
- Syria lashes out at US move to arm rebels (AP)
- U.S. uses Syrian rebel supply lines as it prepares to send arms (Reuters)
- Reports: Israel attacked Syrian weapons convoy (Ynet)
[...] The world today is much different than what it was thirty years ago when the United States kicked-off its annual aid package to Egypt. In the global context of the Cold War, the United States was a growing empire that eventually managed to defeat its nuclear enemy. Today, the United States, as many world historians would argue, is an empire in decline and suffering from a financial crisis and fierce competition with rapidly rising economies. Since the events of 30 June in Egypt, when the military helped oust President Mohamed Morsi, many voices in Washington debated cutting military aid in order to punish the Egyptian generals for undertaking a coup. The decline in the value of the US aid package to Egypt suggests that current controversy about how Washington can pressure Egypt’s generals into accepting US advice overestimates US leverage over the country’s military. The expectation that the generals will follow Washington’s lead can no longer be taken for granted.
House Republicans rolled out a greatly reduced budget for the State Department and foreign aid programs Thursday but opted to forgo any immediate decision on cutting U.S. aid to Egypt following the ouster of its elected president, Mohamed Morsi.
The $34.1 billion package includes substantial investments in embassy security but deep cuts elsewhere pose a serious threat to many of President Barack Obama’s initiatives.
[...] within the $34.1 billion total, the bill continues to budget an estimated $1.3 billion in annual assistance for Egypt. But the future of these funds is sure to be a matter of debate as the measure advances in the House Appropriations Committee.
Halfway through 2013, the world already needs to spend more than twice what it did last year, if it wants to help all the 73 million people who are suffering in Syria and other major crises around the world, the U.N. top humanitarian official said Wednesday.
As much as $12.94 billion is needed, more than has ever been requested in any year before, and that figure represents only the needs that are known at the midpoint of this year, so it will continue to go up, according to Valerie Amos, the U.N. undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief.
That compares with the $9.71 billion that the U.N. sought for all of last year of which donors provided just 63 percent, or $6.1 billion.
So far donors have provided $5.1 billion, or about 40 percent of the “unprecedented” needs this year, Amos said.
But that is roughly the same amount that the United Nations said was needed for all of 2007 — and donors only provided 72 percent of the $5.14 billion request five years ago.
by Patricia Zengerle
U.S. lawmakers will begin to vote as soon as next week on legislation that could continue aid to Egypt even if the Obama administration determines that the ouster of elected President Mohamed Mursi was a military coup, lawmakers and aides said on Thursday.
The United States currently sends $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic aid to Egypt each year, but the military coup label would cut off the flow under a U.S. law dating to the 1980s.
As a result, the White House and State Department have so far refused to characterize Mursi’s ouster as a coup, with administration officials often resorting to verbal gymnastics to avoid using the word.
The United States will go through with the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in the coming weeks, US officials told Reuters on Wednesday as Washington deliberated whether to call the ouster of Egypt’s elected leader a military coup.
Egypt is the second-largest recipient of US aid behind Israel, receiving $1.5 billion a year. The jets were part of that aid package, a US defense official confirmed.
One defense official said the delivery of the four F-16s was likely to take place in August.
by Thalif Deen
Inter Press Service
When the dust settles from the ongoing deadly confrontations between the Egyptian armed forces and thousands of Islamist protesters in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, the eventual winner will be the United States – specifically U.S.-made weapons systems in the hands of the country’s 440,000-strong military.
At last count, over 50 demonstrators were killed and more than 400 wounded in the military rampage Monday as the political crisis in Egypt spun out of control.
With massive firepower at its command, the Egyptian security forces are armed with a wide range of mostly U.S-supplied weapons, ranging from fighter planes, combat helicopters, warships and missiles to riot-controlled equipment such as armoured personnel carriers, recoilless rifles, sub-machine guns, rubber bullets, handguns and tear gas grenades.
Virtually all of these weapons have been provided under non-repayable, outright U.S. military grants ever since Egypt signed the U.S.-brokered Camp David Peace Treaty with Israel back in September 1978.
As the second largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel, Egypt receives about 1.5 billion dollars in both military and economic aid annually, of which 1.3 billion dollars is earmarked for the armed forces.
by Dan Roberts
The Obama administration attempted to sidestep questions over the legality of military aid to Egypt on Monday, claiming it was not in its “best interests” to decide yet whether the armed overthrow of the country’s elected president amounted to a coup or not.
US law prevents any administration providing support to the leaders of a military coup, but the White House announced it will not suspend foreign aid to Egypt for now, pending further review of how army generals behaved both during and after the change of regime in Cairo.
“We have had a long relationship with Egypt and the Egyptian people and it would not be wise to abruptly change our assistance programme,” said spokesman Jay Carney. “The smart policy is to review this matter.”
“There is not a simple or easy answer here,” he added. “It is in our interests to observe and engage.”