It is in Ahmed H. Zewail’s opinion that the US should not cut or reduce foreign aid to Egypt in response to al-Sisi’s actions. When the US cut aid to Egypt in 1955 the Soviet Union took over supplying aid. When aid resumed under Sadat in 1973 Egypt worked for US interests and saw peace between Israel. The US needs Egypt in the fight against terrorism and even if the US stops giving aid gulf states are contributing more than 10 times that amount so it can no longer be used as a betting chip. While al-Sisi is a controversial president he has helped the budget by cutting subsidies on fuel and raising them on bread and has headed the expansion of the Suez canal. The US should keep sending aid and wield its influence in order to better human rights instead of cutting diplomatic ties which would only hurt Egypt which is still facing numerous problems including domestic terrorism and a sluggish economy.
Ahead of the UN review on human rights in Egypt the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it is undergoing intensive preparation to show its full commitment to fundamental rights and freedoms. They plan to do this by better abiding by the 2014 constitution and reviewing several pressing matters including sexual harassment, prison custody, and the condition of the disabled. However the continued enforcement of the 2013 protest law and military trials for civilians are still a significant issue. Regardless Abdel Ati, a spokesmen for Ministry of Foreign Affairs, states that Egypt is undergoing this review to show that it is respecting the commitment it made to the UN and not in response to Western criticism.
The Case for al-Sisi
It is clear at this point that Egypt and al-Sisi are not fully respecting human rights. Even after Mubarak’s departure there are still mass arrests of protesters, a restricted press, oppression of many NGOs, and shady military trials. Despite all this, a case can be made for al-Sisi’s brief time in office. He has done some good for the economy and he is committed to a secular government. In my previous post I expressed a negative opinion of al-Sisi. I still believe he can make more of an effort to respect human rights but I understand that Egypt has never been stable since the revolution and short-term draconian measures are needed to ensure stability. In addition the US needs to continue to support al-Sisi’s government despite the abuses. We ally with more oppressive regimes than Egypt and we need an ally in the Middle East as good as Egypt is. The last thing the US wants is Gulf States like Saudi Arabia and Yemen wielding more influence in Egypt. Furthermore many of al-Sisi’s actions are for the good of Egypt. He is expanding the Suez canal and reduced fuel subsidies while boosting bread subsidies, which benefits both the people and the budget. Furthermore, his more oppressive actions maybe seen as more misguided than malevolent as he tries to gain a foothold on the crumbling cliff that is Egypt.