With Egypt in turmoil and the U.S. officially “favoring” the protests (via Obama’s indirect support), I’ve been scratching my head on what has happened to this once critical relationship. After the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Egypt changed strategy 180 degrees to embrace the United States. Egypt then struck a peace accord with Israel, a critical step for the U.S. strategy in that region. It is well known that with Egypt’s cooperation, America’s foot-hold in the Middle East was greatly enhanced. For example, the U.S. military have rights to fly over Egypt. U.S. naval ships have priority access through the Suez Canal. In exchange, Egypt was given massive “aid.” By Marian Wang’s count, it has totaled well above $60 billion to date.
So, what went wrong? Why isn’t the U.S. interested in propping up Mubarak anymore?
Editors over at Middle East Quarterly published in December 1995 a ten-point summary, “Does American Aid Help Egypt?” by Aryan Nasif, who wrote in The Left, a Cairese journal, argued the “aid” came with tremendous hardship. Don’t get me wrong, the Egyptian government must take responsibility too, for taking the “aid” and for accepting the terms attached. Amongst Nasif’s points, he said:
The U.S. mutual security law states explicitly that no economic or technical aid may be granted to any country unless it strengthens U.S. security.
“F.A.Q. on U.S. Aid to Egypt: Where Does the Money Go – And Who Decides How It’s Spent?”
by Marian Wang ProPublica, Jan. 31, 2011, 4:53 p.m.
The protests in Egypt have prompted renewed questions about the U.S.’s aid to the country – an issue that the U.S. government has also pledged to reconsider . We’ve taken a step back and tried to answer some basic questions, such as how as much the U.S. has given, who has benefitted, and who gets to decide how its all spent.
How much does the U.S. spend on Egypt?
Egypt gets the most U.S. foreign aid of any country except for Israel. (This doesn’t include  the money spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.) The amount varies each year and there are many different funding streams, but U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt has averaged just over $2 billion every year since 1979, when Egypt struck a peace treaty with Israel  following the Camp David Peace Accords, according to a Congressional Research Service report from 2009.
Watching the protests and riots in Egypt over the last few days, it seems the country is simply spiraling towards chaos; to no end. As you probably already know, Egyptians are protesting to end Mubarak’s 30-year rule. According to Al Jazeera’s reporter in Cairo, the last ISP within Egypt has now been shut down. The protesters are now massing in Tahrir Square to organize their next steps. They are plotting for a “decisive” step, perhaps marching to the presidential palace.
Shaun Rein has an excellent article out today, “What China’s Leaders Need to Learn from Egypt’s Turmoil?” China could one day face protests for legitimate reasons. He believes the most likely corner of society to feel disenfranchised are university students unable to find jobs. It is inevitable China’s economy recesses some day. When that happens, and if the whole population feels injustice, they will take to the streets. Chaos can quickly engulf the country as we see today in Egypt. And, it’s never clear how the country will re-emerge.