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16 Apr, 2012 12:04

Egypt flux ‘could trigger US aid backfire’

The US move to resume annual military aid to Egypt has sparked concern the money will no longer be able buy the loyalty of the changing country. Cairo’s unclear political future could now result in a conflict with Washington and its key ally Israel.

The disqualifications of ten contenders, including three top hopefuls for upcoming presidential elections, could deprive key factions in Egypt of the opportunity or time to rally support for alternative candidates. And it leaves a question mark over those, if any, that are reinstated. This mass ouster from the candidates' ranks adds fuel to the concerns over who actually ends up in charge of the country. But despite the apparent political uncertainty, Washington announced it will resume its annual $1.3 billion military aid to Cairo.In December 2011, the funding was halted until the State Department could certify that Egypt was making progress on basic democratic freedoms.

Since 1979, the US has given Egypt an average of $2 billion annually, much of it military aid, according to the Congressional Research Service. The combined total makes Egypt the second largest recipient of US aid after Israel.

In March, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the US will continue to provide the financial support. Former US national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski explained the decision.“It is absolutely essential that we do what we can to preserve a close strategic relationship with Egypt, because Egypt is the major player in the region."But many experts doubt that Egypt is actually progressing towards democracy just because it removed a dictator and is now in the process of replacing dictatorship with a theocracy.“Unfortunately, our leadership in the White House and in the State Department have not caught up with the new reality,” David Meir-Levi, the Director of Research and Education at the Israel Peace Initiative, told RT. “We are not buying loyalty”. The Muslim Brotherhood is now the ruling power in Egypt’s parliament. And their candidate could well win the presidential election in May.

Political ambitions of Muslim Brotherhood

At the start of 2012, the Brotherhood declared Israel, America’s closest ally in the region, Egypt’s enemy number one. The party's deputy head, Rashad Bayoumi also announced it would work to cancel the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt."No Muslim Brotherhood members will engage in any contact or normalization with Israel," he reportedly said in an interview with the London-based Al-Hayat Arabic newspaper in January.“The Brotherhood respects international conventions, but we will take legal action against the peace treaty with the Zionist entity,” Al-Hayat reported. Recently however, a delegation from the Muslim Brotherhood made a trip to Washington and flip-flopped on some of their harsh statements.This time, the Brotherhood lawmakers said they were not planning on breaking the peace agreement with Israel.In light of these mixed messages, experts wonder whether there is any guarantee that Egypt’s military power bolstered by US taxpayer dollars and weapons will not one day be aimed against America itself.“The fact that they have to send a delegation to charm Washington shows you what they’re trying to hide is not very charming,” David Meir-Levi is convinced. “We are talking about American taxpayer dollars being used to fund what may well be a government in Egypt which is vitriolically anti-American.”Experts warn that democracy is the farthest thing from the thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic party that fully intends to implement Sharia law. Now that the Brotherhood is firmly in control, they question how the State Department can possibly conclude that Egypt is moving toward to democracy.