First Published: 2013-03-05


US Aid Conditional to Morsi’s Success in Fixing Egypt’s Problems


I think that the US is encouraging the limping democracy in Egypt. In doing so, the Americans are trying to maintain and defend their interests in the volatile region, notes Mohammed Ali Ibrahim.


Middle East Online

President Mohamed Morsi met with US Secretary of State John Kerry at Ettihadiya Palace in Cairo last Sunday. The American official said the US would give Egypt US$190 million to support the government's budget, but it seems that this sum is conditional to Morsi’s success in fixing Egypt’s problems.

Morsi and Kerry discussed the current situation in Egypt. Kerry conveyed President Barack Obama's support of the transition to democracy in Egypt. But Kerry also urged Morsi to reach a consensus with opposition powers and restore their confidence in order for Egypt to overcome the current difficult situation and achieve stability and development. Kerry told Morsi that economy could not walk with its two amputated legs: security and stability.

It is worth mentioning that several major opposition groups, led by the National Salvation Front, have announced a boycott of the upcoming parliamentary polls slated for 22 April, demanding more guarantees for transparent elections and the formation of a neutral government to supervise the polls.

Morsi and Kerry also discussed how the US could support the Egyptian economy, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian and Syria conflicts. So far, the presidency has not issued any official statements on the meeting. Some analysts argue that all the past presidential statements were disregarded as they lack credibility and people lost confidence in them.

Kerry visited Egypt as part of a tour that includes nine other countries. In Egypt, Kerry met with Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, Defense Minister, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Arab League chief, Nabil al-Arabi, and several Egyptian opposition figures, including Amr Mussa, a leader from the NSF. Mussa was the only member of opposition who agreed to meet Kerry as other figures boycotted him. Sabahi, a prominent SLF figure, said that USA is backing Morsi albeit all his violations of laws and democratic principles.

“There must be a willingness on all sides to make meaningful compromises on the issues that matter most to the Egyptian people," Kerry told reporters after talks on Saturday with Amr Mussa. A State Department official travelling with Kerry also told reporters that he would also discuss the anti-Semitic remarks that Morsi made before he was president and has since backtracked from.

But "the primary goal here is to encourage the work that he did with Israelis in getting the Gaza cease-fire," he said. He was referring to an Egyptian-mediated truce that ended eight days of fighting in November between Israel and Hamas.

Meeting some of Egypt's business leaders, Kerry stressed the importance of a $4.8 billion IMF loan, which is partly conditioned on a measure of agreement between the nation's divided factions. But on the next day, Egyptian dailies whipped the loan, arguing that such a loan stipulates the lifting of subsidies on petrol and provisional commodities as well as the devaluation of the local currency, the pound, which would automatically send prices skyrocketing.

"It is paramount, essential, and urgent that the Egyptian economy gets stronger, that it gets back on its feet," Kerry said. "It is clear to us that the IMF arrangement needs to be reached. So we need to give the marketplace the confidence it needs.”

Kerry also held a closed meeting on Sunday afternoon with the Head of the General Intelligence Services, Mohamed Raafat Shehata, at the intelligence agency’s headquarters in Cairo, a diplomatic source at the US Embassy in Cairo said. The American source did not give any further details about the meeting, which began at 3:15 pm. The source noted, however, that the meeting is part of the US Secretary of State’s intention to listen to visions of all acting parties on the Egyptian political scene on how to relieve the country’s ongoing economic and political problems.

I think that the US is encouraging the limping democracy in Egypt. In doing so, the Americans are trying to maintain and defend their interests in the volatile region. For them, having a strong pro-US Islamic regime in the region can be a valuable asset.

President Obama threw in the towel in a phone call to Morsi. That was evident when he welcomed Morsi’s commitment to serve as a president for all Egyptians, including women and people of all faiths. Weasel words, Obama knows that. Yet, according to the protocol, he will give Morsi the glad hand at the White House in July.

Obama emphasised Morsi’s responsibility to protect the democratic principles that the Egyptian people fought so hard to secure. He encouraged Morsi to build consensus and advance the political transition.

According to Al-Ahram, the US ambassador Anne Patterson bypassed Morsi to dot the i’s and cross the t’s with Khairat El Shater, an unelectable Muslim Brotherhood's member who is running the show.

Mohammed Ali Ibrahim is a former editor -in -chief of the Egyptian Gazette in Cairo.


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