Corker correct to urge Egypt ‘recalibration’
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker is right in insisting that the United States “recalibrate” its aid to Egypt.
The Tennessee Republican, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stated his position Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
As violence rages on Egyptian streets, some U.S. officials have called for the suspension of all military aid to Egypt. That would be short-sighted. It would neither be in the best interest of the U.S. nor resolve the crisis in the Arab world’s most populous and culturally influential nation.
Since the army overthrew the government of Mohamed Morsi, the U.S. has signaled its concern by postponing delivery of four F-16 fighter jets and opting out of a joint military exercise. But the $1.5 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt is still on track.
As Corker pointed out, some suspension of some aid is inevitable. But he also noted it’s important that lines of communication be kept open. The U.S. has sound reasons for continuing to provide strategically targeted aid to Egypt.
It’s a simple matter of fact that most of this year’s aid has been already been committed. Much of the rhetoric from Washington at this point is largely symbolic. It’s not like the U.S. is writing a check to Egypt. The great majority of the aid money stays in the U.S. where it goes to the military contractors that manufacture the M1A1 tanks and F-16 fighters sent to Egypt.
Some jets and tanks are simply kept in storage. Why? Because Egypt doesn’t need them.
The only regional power that could engage in an air or ground war with Egypt is Israel. It’s no coincidence that Egypt is the only Arab country with a peace treaty with Israel — another reason the U.S. needs to calibrate its response.
Which brings us to another point. Much has been made about the Muslim Brotherhood winning a democratic election. Let’s get this straight.
It was not the Muslim Brotherhood that engineered the 2011 revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak was forced out by a coalition of secularists, moderate Muslims, Coptic Christians and others opposed to the autocratic regime that was unable to stem the country’s economic slide.
The Muslim Brotherhood won the election — by a small margin — because it was tightly organized and ruled from the top. Its recent claims to be committed to democracy are belied by its history and autocratic governance. Its very name reveals its true intent. The Muslim Brotherhood represents one religion — albeit an extremist strain of that religion — and confers all power to a single gender.
Corker said a suspension of some aid should provide an opportunity for the U.S. “to recalibrate and look at what is our national interest.” That’s a responsible strategy.