Egypt in danger of losing US aid
President Obama on Monday warned Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi that he must get the violence in Gaza under control.
Frustration in the U.S. over rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas militants is increasingly centered on Egypt, and is expected to raise pointed questions from lawmakers next week about the $2 billion in annual American aid to that country.
Egypt’s post-Arab Spring government is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, an ideological ally of Hamas, which rules in Gaza and is considered a terrorist group by the U.S. Israeli security officials argue the rockets hitting the nation’s cities were trucked through Egypt and smuggled through border tunnels into Gaza.
Lawmakers were already frustrated over Morsi’s response to violent Sept. 11 demonstrations at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, and many are suspicious of his government. The new attacks on Israel are only underlining those concerns.
Obama took time off his historic trip to Asia on Monday to talk to Morsi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
While a White House reading of Monday’s call said Obama and Morsi “discussed ways to de-escalate the situation in Gaza,” Jonathan Schanzer, a Middle East expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said he’d been told an earlier call Friday between the two leaders had been “very tense.”
While its new leaders’ sympathies lie with the Palestinians — Morsi recalled his ambassador to Israel last week and condemned Israel’s “wanton aggression” — the government knows it’s dependent on U.S. and international aid.
...The Islamist have pretty well killed off the antiquities tourism trade and the terrorist in the Sinai have killed off the resort trade. Egypt is having to import 60 percent of its food and needs the cash to pay for it. It is quickly becoming a beggar society like the Palestinians. The real issue maybe whether the Morsi government can put aside its religious bigotry and ethnic hatred of the Israelis and see its self interest is in not supporting Hamas.