Can’t buy me love…

According to a poll carried out by the US Gallup organization in Egypt, that was featured on the front page of The Jerusalem Post on Monday, the majority of Egyptians by a whopping 82% do not want to receive aid from the USA. The majority of people would prefer to receive aid from other Muslim countries, such as Turkey (Sunni) (60%) and Iran (Shia) (41%). At present Egypt receives b$1.7 a year from the USA, of which b$1.3 is for military support. The current Government, which is a Military Council, is very happy to receive this aid, although some of it has been held up by a recalcitrant Congress due to the recent mistreatment of NGO officials, including 19 Americans, who were either arrested or wanted for supposedly carrying out illegal activities. However, these charges were dropped and the arrest warrents were nullified, presumably as a result of these American threats to cut off aid. Now the Muslim Brotherhood, that is poised to form the next civilian Government, has raised questions about this procedure, since they were behind the original arrests.

The question arises, why push aid on people who don’t want it and aren’t supportive of American values or democracy. One election doesn’t make a democracy and all the euphoria over the so-called “Arab Spring” has been shown to be so much wasted ink. The elections in Egypt and the rest of North Africa (the Maghreb) have brought Islamists to the fore and they are likely to stay there for a very long time. Given these results, Pres. Obama’s rush to Cairo in 2009 to give his “conciliatory” speech to the Muslim people, can now be seen to have been ill-advised, premature and ineffectual. It clearly did not influence the majority of Egyptians who have a negative attitude towards the USA. In the poll, 65% of Egyptians disapprove of the policies of the USA while only 19% approve.

In most of the Maghreb the Governments elected have indicated their strong opposition to relations with Israel, and in Tunisia this has been written into the new constitution. The Moslem Brotherhood have reversed themselves and are fielding a candidate for President of Egypt. Their candidate Khairat al-Shater is a prominent Islamic businessman, who has vowed that he will never allow Egypt to recognise Israel. However, most commentators do not expect any Egyptian leader to realistically be able to foment war with Israel, given the economic and military state of the country. The loss of US aid would cause even greater economic hardship in Egypt that would further set them back for almost a decade.

About the Author
Jack Cohen was born in London and has a PhD in Chemistry from Cambridge University. He moved to the US and worked at the National Cancer Inst. and then Georgetown Medical School. In 1996, he Moved to Israel and became Chief Scientist of the Sheba Medical Center. He retired in 2001 and worked as a Visiting Professor at Hebrew University Medical School for 5 years.