Influence in Egypt? We’ve got it, Just not the it we Want


By Troy Kuersten

One curious trope I see bouncing its way around the news media and the internet is the idea of using the military aid that the United States gives to Egypt as leverage to persuade them to cease using force against protesters.  The idea that this particular set of aid could be used in such a manner is one that raises rather interesting questions.

First off, a little history.  The United States began supplying Egypt with nearly $1 billion per year in military aid as a result of the Camp David accords when it essentially bribed Egypt and Israel to made peace with each other.  As far as bribes go, this one has been phenomenally successful; neither Egypt nor Israel has attempted to resume hostilities with any serious intent in the 35-years since this accord was reached.

And this is exactly the reason why no one with the power to actually do it is considering using the aid as leverage in the current dispute.  While the United States could, in theory, pull a Darth Vader and decide to unilaterally change the terms of the agreement under which the aid is given, there’s no guarantee that Egypt wouldn’t decide to emulate Lando Calrissian and simply decide the new deal isn’t worth it.

Egyptian Military ProtestWhile the United States is concerned about the domestic situation inside Egypt, there’s no guarantee that it can do anything about it.  It is, on the other hand, fairly comfortable with the fact that this aid policy has kept Egypt at peace with Israel.  Were I a betting man, I would place a fairly large wager that the Obama administration isn’t willing to risk the comparatively certain peace agreement they have for the rather slim chance that they could alter the regime’s domestic agenda.

I’ll leave the question of whether the United States should continue bribing both Egypt and Israel into doing something that is so clearly in both of their best interests for another time.

Picture 1: 2bgr8 [CC-BY-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Picture 2: Mona (Down wt Mobarak  Uploaded by BanyanTree) [CC-BY-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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