An Egyptian military delegation is in Washington this week with a wish list of weapons to buy with their $1.3 billion in annual U.S. aid while back in Cairo the generals running the government are blocking seven Americans from returning home, threatening them with criminal prosecution and harassing congressionally funded pro-democracy non-governmental organizations.
Behind the anti-American campaign is Faiza Aboul Naga, a Mubarak holdover who is the minister of international cooperation, reports the Washington Post, which calls her "an ambitious demagogue" who is "whipping up nationalist sentiment against the United States as a way of attacking liberal opponents at home."
Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the general running the government, has failed to keep his personal promises to President Obama to halt the witch hunt and return confiscated funds and property. As an incentive, the United States should suspend military aid to Egypt, says a Washington Post editorial.
Preserving the alliance with Egypt, and maintaining good relations with its military, is an important U.S. interest. But the Obama administration must be prepared to take an uncompromising stand. If the campaign against U.S., European and Egyptian NGOs is not ended, military aid must be suspended.
The regime’s calculation has always been that it can get away with such outrages because U.S. policymakers will conclude they can’t afford a rupture in relations with Egypt. But if such a break is to be avoided, the generals must be disabused of the notion that U.S. military aid is inviolate.