Will We Cut Egypt’s Aid? Ctd

Ali Gharib sides with Elliott Abrams on aid to Egypt. He doubts the withdrawal of US money will undermine the country’s ailing economy:

[A] common objection goes like this: Egypt is in tough economic straits, and cutting off both military and economic aid could plunge the whole economy—and society—into a chaotic tailspin. (Because the military dominates the economy, controlling between 10 and 30 percent of it, the military aid factors in here too.) Along with various members of Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry made this point: ”A hold up of aid might contribute to the chaos that may ensue because of their collapsing economy,” Kerry said. “Their biggest problem is a collapsing economy.”

The U.S. gives about $1.5 billion total in aid to Egypt. Since Morsi’s ouster, Gulf Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates pledged $12 billion—which appears to not be directed solely at the military. In other words, the Gulf Arabs have already rushed to fill the breach, with more—and more flexible—aid. The Egyptian economy won’t be peachy keen any time soon, but U.S. aid, in the context of the Gulf Arab money, will hardly make or break it.

Max Fisher counts Hagel’s close relationship with the head of the army as another reason we haven’t called it a coup and suspended aid:

The Egyptian defense minister who officially announced on state TV that the military had removed Morsi, a general named Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, also turns out to be friendly with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, according to a revealing story by The Wall Street Journal. They’re not old fishing buddies, exactly, but they had lunch two months ago, the foundation of a personal relationship that was, according to a senior administration official who spoke to the Journal, “basically the only viable channel of communication during the crisis.”

For the Obama administration, then, alienating Sissi would have left the United States without a “viable channel of communication” with one of its most important allies in the Middle East. That raises the potential costs of condemning the coup significantly, and may help explain why the United States is eager to preserve the relationship.

More Dish on the debate over Egypt’s aid here, here and here.