Concerned about Egypt’s political instability and the U.S. budget crunch, a growing number of American lawmakers are challenging the wisdom of providing $1.3 billion a year in military aid to Cairo, arguing that the policy is overdue for a wholesale review.
Lawmakers say that Washington’s largess, which includes large fleets of M1A1 tanks and F-16 fighter jets, could backfire, given the unpredictability of Egypt’s Islamist-led government and its fraught relationship with Israel.
Washington’s increasingly controversial aid package to Egypt, a titan in the Middle East, is on the agenda this weekend when Secretary of State John F. Kerry meets with Egyptian leaders in Cairo. Kerry has argued that disengaging from Egypt would be a mistake, but he will have to contend with louder calls for a review of a policy established decades ago, in a vastly different political context.
Critics of Egypt in the House and Senate have introduced bills this year seeking a temporary halt or outright end to shipments of military supplies to Egypt. While the bills have not drawn widespread support, the arguments that underpin them have gotten significant traction, members of Congress said in interviews.
“Why are we giving billions to Egypt, when in my mind it is not a friend of America?” said Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who recently introduced a bill calling for a suspension of military and civilian assistance to Egypt. “We’re drowning in a sea of debt. Why are we spending so much money in a part of the world that doesn’t like us?”
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