Thursday, February 3, 2011

Who Pays for Oppression in Egypt?

My great friend Janet Weil of CODEPINK in the Bay area is the best policy wonk I know -- and I mean that as a compliment! Typically, she has pulled together the relevant facts of the day and since I have just a moment this morning I will share them with you below. This on day 11, as we watch Mubarak's armed thugs continue to kill and maim while the Egyptian army stands idly by, watching.

Washington’s mightiest leverage, should it care to demonstrate its alleged impatience, is the annual US aid package to Egypt. According to the Congressional Research Service, total aid to Egypt has averaged $2 billion annually since 1979, the year of the Camp David peace agreement with Israel. Though overall US assistance has declined over the last decade, military aid has held steady since 1983 at approximately $1.3 billion. This assistance is Foreign Military Financing, a program whose terms dictate that the recipient nation (unless it happens to be Israel) must spend the package’s full dollar value on American-manufactured weaponry. (Israel can spend a portion in its own armories.) An additional $1.558 billion, most of it military aid, has been requested for Egypt in the 2011 appropriations. On January 28, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs raised the hopes of Egyptian democracy advocates by hinting that the package could be trimmed, but there has been no reiteration since then.

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$1.558 billion. What we could do with that, for our schools, for green jobs, for the poor.

The FY2011 appropriations, amazingly, have still not been voted on, so there is hope this could be cut off.

The best quote I've ever heard about Egypt applies to the US as well:
"Egypt is not poor. Egypt is robbed."

Solidarity action for Egypt's struggle to be free will be held in Portland, Maine this Saturday at noon. Gather at Post Office Plaza in the Old Port Neighborhood. More info here.

1 comment:

Owl Who Laughs said...

I have been watching the people of Egypt rise up with continued conviction and I have watched the thugs beat and maim them and I have seen the people RISE UP again--and it has been the most amazing journey. Finally something real on the news (Al Jazeera providing a daily ongoing blog).

Will Americans wake up and take a cue from the Egyptian people? Will we realize that we have been supporting sick dictators like Mubarak for decades as part of a hideous policy?

the people of Egypt should be making us all cry.

Thank you for blogging on it!