Top Story of the Week: Egyptian Crisis Prompts Aid Reviews, Warnings

The increasingly tense situation in Egypt has prompted some donor countries to review, as well as threaten to cut, their aid to the country.

Germany and the United States, among other countries, have been calling for a peaceful end to the crisis. Both countries slammed the government’s use of force to suppress street protests in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other key Egyptian cities.

There is little indication that the crisis in the country will come to an immediate resolution as President Hosni Mubarak’s pledge not to run in the country’s September elections but refusal to step down until then intensified the demonstrations. The political crisis has taken a violent turn as anti-government demonstrators clash with Mubarak’s supporters.

Germany appealed to the Egyptian government to “abandon all forms of violence and (support) the right to demonstrate.” Permitting democratic rights and the protection of human and civil rights is among the German government’s criteria for working with other countries, as well as scaling back aid, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.

The United States has expressed similar sentiments. It is reviewing its military and development aid to the country and said the decision whether to cut this aid would be partly based on on the reaction of Egyptian government forces to ongoing public protests against the regime.

Key U.S. lawmakers, however, are speaking out against calls to eliminate all U.S. aid to Egypt, citing the country’s influence in the Middle East and its peace treaty with Israel. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on state and foreign operations, said the U.S. should be “deliberate about the actions we take” while Rep. Howard Berman of California, the ranking Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee argued that the U.S. should continue its assistance as long as the Egyptian military continues to play “a constructive role in bringing about a democratic transition.”

The Egyptian army has vowed not to use force against the protesters, explaining it respected the people’s right to demonstrate.

The protests in Egypt come just over a week after protests in Tunisia turned violent and prompted the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Similar demonstrations, which analysts said are largely fueled by people’s frustration over years of poverty and corruption, have started sprouting in other Middle Eastern and North African countries, including Yemen and Jordan.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.