Sunday, May 07, 2006

U.S senate cuts aid to Egypt over democracy

I'll repost the whole article:

Senate slashes Egypt aid
The U.S. Senate slashed 10 percent of domestic assistance to Egypt.

The $47 million cut was passed Wednesday in a little-noticed voice vote on an amendment to a foreign operations appropriation that allocated $35 million to famine assistance in Africa and $12 million for disaster relief in the United States, Guatemala and Pakistan. The total was drawn from the domestic aid package to Egypt.

A number of legislators want to cut assistance to Egypt because of its failure to introduce promised democratic reforms. The Bush administration opposes the cuts, noting Egypt’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and a Bush ally in the U.S. House of Representatives said he would restore the assistance when the foreign operations bill goes to conference.

“Egypt is a strategic ally. We shouldn’t be doing something like this right now,” Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz), chairman of the foreign operations subcommittee, told National Journal. Egypt gets $1.3 billion in military aid and just under $500 million in domestic assistance stemming from its 1978 peace accord with Israel.

I have to think that the recent preaceful protests in the United States are having an effect. This is the first real recognition international recognition that there are problems in Egypt. Rep. Kolbe's comment shows the desire to put political positioning over human rights. But obviously enough Republican and Democrats joined together to make the cut. There is still opposition and Rep. Kolbe wants to put the aid back.

Cutting aid generally impacts the poorest people, so we'll see how this goes. But the message is starting to be sent that this Status Quo of limited freedom is not acceptable.

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