Thursday, June 4, 2009

Egypt, a U.S. client state, an unlikely venue for U.S./Muslim reconciliation

by Ann Garrison

On 06.03.2009, Barack Obama announced a new era of U.S./Moslem relations, in Egypt, one of the top three recipients of U.S. military aid, receiving about $1.3 billion annually. In October 2008, the World Tribune reported that Egypt will receive $1.5 billion this year, 2009, in military and civilian aid, down from $1.71 billion in 2008, until they more fully cooperate with Israeli security, and address Egyptian human rights issues.

Obama's address might have had credibility, and marked a new beginning, if he had delivered it, not in a U.S. client state, but in one of the Islamic nations actually harmed or constantly threatened by the U.S.---in Palestine, Iran, Somalia, Sudan---or, Iraq or Afghanistan, as U.S. troops depart.

In Egypt, a brutally repressive U.S. client state, it seemed more likely that the real purpose of President Obama's visit was negotiating Egypt's greater cooperation with Israeli security, to be rewarded with the restoration of last year's $200 million in cuts to annual U.S. aid to Egypt.

At the time of the cuts, in October 2008, Condoleeza Rice said: "The progress has not been everything in Egypt that we would have hoped for. . . We have had setbacks there, we have had disappointments there."

How much George Bush's cultural offenses had to do with these setbacks in Egyptian Israeli security cooperation, and how much Obama's relative charm and cultural sensitivity can do to repair them, will be at least partially revealed by future U.S. aid allocations to Egypt.

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