US Decision to Withhold Military Aid Receives Mixed Reactions as Egyptians Lash Out

As the United States announced its decision to halt deliveries of large-scale military systems, and withhold $260 million in cash aid to Egypt, reactions to the decision, both domestically and internationally have been varied. The overriding sentiment in Egypt, whether among political parties or the general population, is that the aid has been used as a means for the United States to influence internal politics.  Some have even gone so far as to call for the suspension of the Camp David Peace Treaty. In the United States, the decision has received mixed reviews from US congressmen and senators, while in Israel, cautious concern has been expressed.


Foreign Ministry Statement:
The decision was wrong in terms of content and time. It raises serious questions about US readiness to provide stable strategic support to Egyptian security program amid threats and terrorism challenges it has been facing. Egypt will take domestic decisions independently and without external influences and will work towards securing its vital needs … namely those related to its national security. (Source)

In statements to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Foreign Minister Spokesman Badr Abdel Atty said that both the suspension of aid and calls to cancel the Camp David Peace Treaty makes no sense. (Source)

The cabinet is astonished by the United States’ decision on Wednesday to halt some of its military aid to Egypt at this critical moment when Egypt is fighting terrorism. (Source)

National Salvation Front member Omar al-Gindy said the decision will harm bilateral relations between the two countries. He stressed the need to find another strategic partner, signaling to Russia and China. The NSF youth have yet to announce their formal position. (Source)

April 6
Ahmed Maher, April 6 founder, said the decision paves the way for the independence of Egypt’s political decisions, adding that he refuses foreign interference in Egypt’s political affairs. (Source)

Amr Moussa
Amr Moussa described the decision as an opportunity for Egypt to reconsider its economic relations with the United States. (Source)

Armed Forces
The office of the armed forces’ spokesman Ahmed Ali said Abdel Atty’s statements reflect the Egyptian state’s stance on the US’ decision, including the stance of the armed forces and the Ministry of Defence. (Source)

Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, Tamarod member: US aid to Egypt is part of the 1979 Israel-Egypt Camp David peace treaty as it was the sponsor of the treaty. Withholding military aid to Egypt would be the first part of an initiative for the suspension of the treaty. (Source)

Popular Current
The Popular Current issued a statement calling for the suspension of the Camp David Peace Treaty. The statement added that the US decision to suspend aid is evidence that the aid is used ensure that Egyptian political decisions are influenced by Washington, as part of the Camp David Peace Treaty. It described this as a historic opportunity to escape these constraints and allows Egypt to diversify its economic and political international relations, as well as arms sources. (Source)

Naguib Sawiris
Cutting military aid to Egypt is an arrogant counterproductive action! Do not underestimate the pride of the Egyptian people! (Source)

United States

Congressman Adam Schiff
(D-CA), a member of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee:
A decision to reduce the flow of military assistance to Egypt would be the correct one as a matter of law and policy. The military played a decisive role in the overthrow of a deeply-flawed but democratically elected government, and it’s excessive use of force in recent weeks cannot be condoned. (Source)

Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
The Egyptian military has handled the recent transition clumsily, but they have begun a democratic transition which will serve the Egyptian people well in the future and have also worked to maintain regional stability..During this fragile period we should be rebuilding partnerships in Egypt that enhance our bilateral relationship, not undermining them. (Source)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee which oversees Egypt assistance:
The Administration is trying to have it both ways, by suspending some aid but continuing other aid. By doing that, the message is muddled. (Source)

Kay Granger (R-TX), chairwoman of the House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee:
Pulling away now may undermine the ability of the United States to work with a critical partner. Egypt is going through a difficult transition, and while it does, the United States must preserve this partnership that has been so important to our national security, Israel’s security and the stability of the entire Middle East. (Source)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY):
After months of delay, I’m glad this administration is finally thinking about following the law. (Source)

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), member of the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee:
Stability in Egypt is of critical importance to security in the region and United States interests. I am working with the Administration to understand how this aid suspension can be accomplished without harming efforts to fight terrorism or promote a transition to democratic governance. I encourage the Administration to consult closely with Congress on these issues moving forward. (Source)

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):
We’re going to suspend some aid but not other aid. What is the message to [Egyptian] General [Abdul Fattah] al-Sisi? We should abide by our rule of law. But we didn’t do that. (Source)

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
Our relationship with Egypt is bound by decades of shared concerns to ensure regional stability, maintain the Camp David peace accords, and cooperate on counter-terrorism and border security efforts. Assistance to Egypt that supports these common goals should continue. But ongoing violence in Egypt is troubling, shows no signs of abating, and given these worrisome developments, a pause in assistance is appropriate until the Egyptian government demonstrates a willingness and capability to follow the roadmap toward a sustainable, inclusive and non-violent transition to democracy.   

The interim government and Egyptian Armed Forces bear the burden of responsibility for ensuring security and safety for all Egyptians.  I also call on leaders from the Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party to denounce violence, support peaceful protests, and engage constructively in a national reconciliation process so that Egypt may move forward on its democratic path.  These are the steps needed to allow for the possibility of a full resumption of assistance to Egypt. (Source)


Cabinet Minister Gilad Erdan:
Certainly it can be confirmed that we had been troubled by how decisions of this kind were liable to be interpreted in Egypt, and of course the risk of consequences for relations with Israel. I hope this decision by the United States will not have an effect and won’t be interpreted as something that should have an effect on the treaty. (Source)

Opposition lawmaker Nachman Shai, a member of parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee:
Currently the military government in Egypt is fighting fiercely terror within the country and in the Sinai and any military and political assistance is extremely important to support them in this battle. (Source)

Former defense minister Labor MK Binyamin Ben- Eliezer
It must be understood that this region is so weak and in order to keep it stable, a superpower of some kind is required to safeguard it. (Source)

Image: Photo: White House