The U.S. government is resisting calls for suspending aid to Egypt, where protesters are pushing for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade regime.
The U.S. should approach the issue with caution, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said amid pressure on the U.S. government to suspend more than USD1.3 billion in military and development aid to Egypt.
“There is a lot of uncertainty out there and I would just caution against doing anything until we really understand what’s going on,” Mullen told ABC television in an interview on Feb. 4. “I recognise that [$1.3bn] certainly is a significant investment, but it’s an investment that has paid off for a long, long time.
If the Egyptian military uses force against peaceful protesters, the U.S. government would “immediately” cancel aid, the Guardian reports.
U.S. lawmakers are debating whether to cut aid to Egypt, with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on state and foreign operations, calling for the cancellation of aid unless Mubarak immediately steps down.
Bulk of U.S. aid to Egypt is channeled through military assistance, while the rest support the Arab nation’s economic, agricultural, health and democratic institutions. The U.S., on the other hand, cooperates with Egypt on counter-terrorism and the Arab-Israeli peace agreements.
“You talk about aid as leverage, rather than influence, and it could be seen as blackmail. In a country like Egypt, you could end up alienating the very people you are trying to influence,” said Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Read more about U.S. development aid.