The Egyptian government makes one:
Egypt’s military-led government said Sunday that it would put 19 Americans and two dozen others on trial in a politically charged criminal investigation into the foreign financing of nonprofit groups that has shaken the 30-year alliance between the United States and Egypt.
The decision raises tensions between the two allies to a new peak at a decisive moment in Egypt’s political transition after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak a year ago. Angry protesters are battling security forces in the streets of the capital and other major cities. The economy is in urgent need of billions of dollars in foreign aid. And the military rulers are in the final stages of negotiations with the Islamists who dominate the new Parliament over the terms of a transfer of power that could set the country’s course for decades.
The criminal prosecution is a rebuke to Washington in the face of increasingly stern warnings to Egypt’s ruling generals from President Obama, cabinet officials and senior Congressional leaders that it could jeopardize $1.55 billion in expected American aid this year, including $1.3 billion for the military.
Egypt’s total defense spending is estimated at around $3.9 billion, meaning that cutting defense aid alone would result in a one-third reduction of funds to the military, which continues to govern the country non-democratically a year after the heady days of the “Arab Spring.”
Egypt’s foreign office says that the decision on whether or not to try US members of NGOs is a judiciary one, but as the NYT article cited above makes clear, both the FO and the courts are under the direct guidance of the military council governing the country.
Cutting foreign assistance to Egypt could destabilize the uneasy partnership between that country, Israel and the US. But maintaining the aid under deliberate provocation by the military council would continue Washington’s bad habit of supporting dictators at the expense of their trampled masses.
We make no friends supplying tyrants the tools the tools they use to break local skulls, and it makes less sense still when those tyrants turn their ire on “foreign schemes that threaten the stability of the homeland.” That sort of thing used to play pretty well in the Arab Street, but recent events have demonstrated that the rules of the game have changed.