The best lobbyists for Egypt's U.S. aid: Israeli diplomats
02/09/2011 - 14:47
James Besser

Washington is buzzing with talk that Congress may cut off Egypt's big foreign aid allocation – the second biggest in the U.S. foreign aid program, behind Israel's. Members of Congress, in particular, are making noise about cutting or ending aid going back to the Camp David peace agreement.

Think it's going to happen? Don't bet the kibbutz. In the past, Egypt has had some mighty important lobbyists who pulled out all the stops to ensure that the aid to Cairo continued – and I'm not talking about million-dollar-a-year K Street hired guns.

When aid cuts have been threatened in the past, the most effective lobbyists for preserving it were Israeli diplomats here who believed Washington's aid to Egypt was critical to Israeli interests in the region – including their interest in backing a Mubarak regime that has kept the peace with Israel for 30 years.

Almost nobody was surprised this week when WikiLeaks revealed U.S. diplomatic cables showing that Israel has “long preferred current Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman as the successor to President Hosni Mubarak,” according to JTA.

Suleiman, who has been Mubarak's link to Israel as well s to the Palestinians, is considered the most likely interim successor to Mubarak - and the successor most likely to maintain the preeminence of the military.

So I'm guessing that when the crunch comes – when Congress starts chewing on next year's foreign aid budget – Egypt's best lobbyists will come calling again, making the argument that boosting Egypt's military is a critical element in regional stability.

Sure, lawmakers will continue to huff and puff about cutting aid to the despotic Mubarak government. They may even insert language into authorizing legislation demanding free elections and other democratic niceties, which I'm sure will scare the pants off Egypt's military leaders.

But I'm betting a lot of the lawmakers who today are calling for an end to Egypt aid will quietly change their minds when the lobbyists from Israel begin knocking on their doors – backed, I should add, by the Pentagon, which loves Egypt aid almost as much as it loves Israel aid, in large part because so much of the money comes back here to defense contractors.

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What the US is ask Egypt to do via transition to democracy and development, cannot occur if the majority of US aid goes to the military it will have to be diverted to civilian projects. The Egyptian military that has vast wealth in property and assets will also have to demilitarize those assets for civilian purposes. Egyptian domestic spending will also have to be diverted to civilian projects. If that does not occur any new democratic government which the US hopes to fill with so-called moderates will fail if this does not occur which will cause a vacuum in which the MB will become more power due to the disaffected electorate and be able to take over. The US want the status quo to go while keeping the status quo, which has able them to force change on the regime. This is good for Israel in one way because in 10 years with the diversion of aid the Egyptian military will be much weaker, it is the short to medium term that increases the threat level to Israel. It is just further proof the US does not know that they are doing. The DOD via the WH are getting the Egyptian military to slit their own throats in the long term. If they crackdown they lose aid, if they do not allow the democratic elected Egyptian Government reform and the matters of the military wealth, assets, property, they would have to coup and lose US aid. So the Pentagon and the defense contractors if they want the status quo will be funding the MB controlled Egypt. Everyone is a loser baby except the Egyptian people and their freedom and in around 10 years Israel.