The growing violence in Egypt has led the US delaying the shipment of F16 fighter jets. With Egypt’s Defence Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi calling for mass protests in support of the Army, this should come as little surprise. That the interim Egyptian government feels the need to call for such protests shows a clear concern that its legitimacy is being questioned. Indeed, calling for mass protests is unlikely to restore calm across the country, as it makes clashes all the more likely. This will simply add to the deteriorating security situation – which has already led the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advising against all but essential travel the country.
This initial step should concern the Egyptian army, as it may well open the flood gates to the US Congress limiting economic and military aid more widely. With Egypt being the second largest recipient of US economic and military aid, second only to Israel, and the Egyptian economy being in sever trouble – with an IMF deal stalled – this should spark concern. Indeed for FY2014, POMED reports that this aid is being divided into four shipments and tied to state department conditions on the democratic process. More widely, with renewed peace talks being led by John Kerry (and as reports suggest Martin Indyk) there is the potential that Congress may want to reconsider the terms of the aid in the first place. Egypt is unstable, in transition and unable to provide internal security – does this sound like a partner for peace that should receive such large quantities of aid? The US has traditionally been paying such aid as a “stability bargain” … this is not a stable situation.