Report: US Mulling $100m Cut in Egyptian Military Aid
The US administration is examining a proposal to reduce Egyptian military aid by $100 million, amid allegations that Cairo is developing intermediate-range missiles with North Korean help, according to a report by Middle East Newslink (MENL).
US government sources were quoted as saying the aid cut would be used to increase US non-military aid to other areas of Africa. The sources said the proposal was being debated in both the White House and State Department.
The pressure to cut aid to Egypt is coming from Congress, the sources said, which has been dismayed by Cairo's refusal to end missile cooperation with Pyongyang. Congressional leaders who met with the White House said Cairo lied about its relationship with North Korea and must be sent a harsh message, says the report.
"A lot depends what will happen in the Middle East over the next feww weeks," a source told MENL. "By the middle of July, the ball will start to roll."
The turning point came in March during the visit by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The sources said Mubarak denied US intelligence reports that Cairo was obtaining No-Dong technology from North Korea for Egypt's medium- and intermediate-range missile program.
But the administration is said, according to MENL, to fear that a reduction in military aid to Egypt would undermine Washington's reliance on Cairo to set a moderate pro-US tone in the Arab world. The concern is especially high in the State Department, where officials have determined that Egypt prevented Arab military coordination against Israel at the height of the nine-month-old Palestinian Intifada.
Egypt has nevertheless been harshly criticizing Israel’s excessive use of force to silence Palestinian protests, and withdrew its ambassador to Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, Egypt has been under increasing US government fire for human rights cases, a sharp policy turnaround that began around the time the Arab state began to drift away from Israel – Albawaba.com
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