In a throwback to the Hosni Mubarak days, when American administrations would routinely hand the autocrat a lot of money to keep the peace with Israel and then publicly rap Mubarak for the lack of democratic reforms, Egypt’s suppression of minority rights, and myriad other abuses, the Obama administration has dropped the human rights condition for Egypt to receive its $1.3 billion check in U.S. military aid.
In a letter to Congress last month, Secretary of State John Kerry noted the Egyptian military’s long partnership in promoting Mideast peace. He said aid helps protect Egypt’s borders, Suez Canal shipping and Israeli security against extremists in Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula.
It was previously thought (and congressionally mandated) that the American approach to the new powers in Egypt, which have threatened to cancel the Egyptian peace accord with Israel, stifled debate, tortured protestors, jailed(!) 19 American members of pro-democracy NGOs earlier this week, publicly embraced the assassin of Anwar Sadat, honored the man who tore down the flag at the Israeli embassy in Cairo as well as hosted an Iranian official for the first time since 1979, might have to meet new benchmarks of human rights to get aid from the United States.
Unfortunately, the region is a little too chaotic for the United States to worry about all that right now, so as a reward for Egypt’s good in sometimes patrolling the borders, sometimes imposing law and order in Sinai, and sometimes cooperating with Israeli security forces, the Obama administration will overlook those other petty grievances and just fork over the cash.
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.