The Obama Administration has appropriately reacted to the detention in Egypt of several American nationals by threatening to cut U.S. aid to Cairo – something it has not done till now, despite explicit Muslim Brotherhood statements about abrogating the Israeli/Egyptian peace treaty, under which Cairo has been the recipient of over $40 billion in U.S. aid over the past thirty years. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization established in 1928 and precursor of Al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups, recently won a majority of seats in the Egyptian parliament.
A top U.S. officials son who is working for a pro-democracy group in Egypt has been barred from leaving the country, along with at least five other Americans, escalating a crackdown on such groups by Egypts military government. Sam LaHood, the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the director of the Egyptian program of the International Republican Institute (IRI), a Washington-based civil society organization, was turned away from leaving Egypt at Cairo airport earlier this week. The IRI is one of three U.S.-based nonprofit groups in Cairo that were raided and shut down on Dec. 29 by Egyptian authorities, who accused the groups of using foreign funds to support unrest in Egypt. Some of the Americans might even face trials.
As many as 40 foreigners are now on a travel ban list as a result of the Egyptian investigation. Scott Mastic, the IRIs regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said, Its absolutely an escalation …. To have a strategic U.S. ally issue bans against American citizens is deeply troubling. In private, State Department officials have also told Egypt that its actions are jeopardizing U.S. aid to Egypts military. U.S. military aid to Egypt totals more than $1.3 billion a year. Despite the State Departments intervention, the Egyptian government has given no sign of backing off its investigation of the American groups (Leila Fadel, Son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood barred from leaving Egypt, Washington Post, January 26, 2012).
In recent days, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Rashad al-Bayoumi said that the Muslim Brotherhood did not sign the peace accords [with Israel] … We will take the proper legal steps in dealing with the peace deal … To me, it isnt binding at all. The people will express their opinion on the matter … On no condition will we recognize Israel. It is an enemy entity … We wont cooperate with Israel in any situation (Roi Kais, Muslim Brotherhood: Israel peace deal isnt binding, Yediot Ahronot, January 1, 2012). Last year, too, Bayoumi emphasized the objective of abrogating the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Also last year, the Muslim Brotherhood leader, Muhammad Badi, spoke enthusiastically of jihad and called for a state based on Islamic law. He also spoke optimistically about the U.S. heading for a collapse.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, Egypt is a recipient of massive U.S. aid for one reason only – because it concluded a peace agreement with Israel. Had it not done so, it would never have received over $40 billion of aid from the U.S. taxpayer. Yet, despite an explicit Muslim Brotherhood platform demanding the abrogation of the U.S.-brokered peace treaty and explicit statements by Brotherhood leaders about their intention to end the treaty, President Obama has not threatened to cut off aid to Egypt. To the contrary, he has continued to closely engage the Brotherhood. Only now, when U.S. nationals are being detained, does the State Department raise the issue of continued aid.
One must ask why President Obama has been silent until now on cutting U.S. aid to Egypt. It is quite astonishing that, until now, the words, deeds and platform of the Muslim Brotherhood and its spokesmen on the peace with Israel – the very basis of U.S. aid to Egypt – did not induce President Obama to threaten cutting off U.S. aid to Egypt.
We strongly urge Obama to make it publicly clear that he will cut off U.S. aid if the Egyptian government abrogates the Israeli/Egyptian peace treaty.