US criticism of Egyptian military crackdown insufficient

We are all familiar with the frequent criticisms lodged at Washington for helping to fund (via billions of dollars in aid) the Israeli military’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. But where are the cries against the billions of dollars given to Egypt’s military, a military now engaged in one of the most shocking crackdowns on public protest?

One might expect that the Arab governments who make such criticisms when it comes to Israel would remain silent on Egypt, fearing their own destabilization. But what about the “enlightened” West? The top diplomats from the UN, the EU and the US have all verbally urged Egypt’s military generals to stop the violence, but why are they not putting their money where their mouth is?

Thanks to Camp David, the US currently gives Egypt some three billion dollars in annual aid. Approximately sixty percent of those funds go directly to the military. That means that American tax dollars are essentially paying for the crackdown on the civil outcry, alongside the intimidation of attempted coverage by independent media.

The Egyptian military continues, as late as Monday night, to insist its troops are not using violence — physical or verbal — against the demonstrators. Let the pictures speak for themselves.


The text under the image explains the footage, posted December the 18th:

Egypt. [H]elmeted officers charging toward a woman in Tahrir Square, drag her on the ground, beat her with clubs and kicking her in head stomp on her stomach and breast drag her by hair also kick and clubbed people in the head ripped off the top clothing grabbing by veil beating random man and shooting live rounds into crowed. defenseless body beaten also. One soldier even pulled her veil over her head stomps on her breasts.

So why is Washington hesitating? Largely for fear of the unknown. Like Israel, the US is concerned by the developments in Cairo, but believes “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Does a fear of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhoods’ role in the country’s future justify the West’s near silence on the issue? Does such an unknown legitimize what many will see as diplomatic impotence?

The US should immediately threaten to cut off funding to Egypt (and thus its military) if it does not halt all violent acts of suppression. The cost of inaction is greater than the risk.