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US lawmakers warn US-Egypt ties nearing 'precipice'

Democrats and Republicans single out Egyptian minister as orchestrator of attack on US NGOs

AFP, Thursday 16 Feb 2012
Fayza
Egyptian minister Fayza abou Elnaga (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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US lawmakers from both parties stepped up their warnings Wednesday that Egypt's crackdown on democracy activists will force a review of US aid to the longtime Mideast ally if the crisis is not quickly resolved.

"I truly believe we are approaching a precipice beyond which our bilateral relations could suffer permanent damage," said Representative Gary Ackerman, a Democrat from New York.

The warnings came as Egyptian authorities proceeded toward a trial of at least 43 activists, including 19 US citizens, working for non-governmental groups aiding the country's transition to democracy.

The United States provides about $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt a year, plus development assistance.

Republican Representative Steve Chabot urged Egyptian authorities to drop charges and travel bans that have been slapped on the American and Egyptian NGO employees, and allow the groups to operate free of restraints.

Failure to do so, he said at a congressional hearing, "will certainly have a most negative effect on the broader US-Egyptian relationship, and will necessitate a reconsideration of US assistance."

Ackerman said US-Egyptian relations have already been damaged by the crisis.

"Until it is resolved, or worse spirals out of control, it could very quickly legally foreclose our ability to provide any bilateral assistance," he said.

He added, "If people here conclude that Egypt is not on a path of democracy, but is instead on its way to becoming another Iran, a bilateral relationship will not survive.
"We're not at that point yet, but we are getting closer every day," he said at the hearing, which was held by a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East.
Washington's relationship with Cairo is a pillar of US policy in the Middle East, key to Egypt's 1979 peace with Israel and of crucial importance to US counter-terrorism efforts and broader relations in the Arab world.

Experts testifying at the hearing noted, however, that a recent Egyptian poll found that 70 percent of Egyptians say they do not want US aid, and that the crackdown on NGOs plays to nationalist sentiments.

They singled out Fayza Abul Naga, Egypt's minister of planning and international cooperation and a holdover from the regime of Hosni Mubarak, for orchestrating the crackdown with the backing of the military to turn public opinion against the country's pro-western liberals.

"As the chief agent provocateur in this whole ordeal, Abul Naga has shown very clearly that she cannot be trusted as the custodian of US taxpayer dollars, and accordingly US assistance should be conditioned on her removal as the administrator of foreign aid," Chabot said.

But Ackerman urged both sides to redouble their efforts to defuse the crisis, and cautioned against pushing Egyptian leaders into a corner.

"We can't just turn our back on this very big relationship, of 80 plus million people, the largest country in the Arab world, and not expect bad things to happen," he said. "We learned from September 11 that if you don't visit bad neighborhoods, they will visit you."

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Justina
18-02-2012 04:23pm
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Relations already damaged?!
Maybe instead of trying to hardball a country to get the wrong doers out while claiming innocent when the proof says otherwise. The US government should worry about what the heck they are going to do about the needs of our poor here at home?! And while we are at it I am pretty sure most US lawmakers could use a few lessons in manners and decorum from Egyptians. I would be more willing to believe and trust an Egyptian then my own local Senator due to the lies they expect us to feed on instead of jobs that would be more filling for our families.
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Justina
18-02-2012 04:22pm
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Relations already damaged?!
Maybe instead of trying to hardball a country to get the wrong doers out while claiming innocent when the proof says otherwise. The US government should worry about what the heck they are going to do about the needs of our poor here at home?! And while we are at it I am pretty sure most US lawmakers could use a few lessons in manners and decorum from Egyptians. I would be more willing to believe and trust an Egyptian then my own local Senator due to the lies they expect us to feed on instead of jobs that would be more filling for our families.
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Justina
18-02-2012 04:21pm
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Relations already damaged?!
Maybe instead of trying to hardball a country to get the wrong doers out while claiming innocent when the proof says otherwise. The US government should worry about what the heck they are going to do about the needs of our poor here at home?! And while we are at it I am pretty sure most US lawmakers could use a few lessons in manners and decorum from Egyptians. I would be more willing to believe and trust an Egyptian then my own local Senator due to the lies they expect us to feed on instead of jobs that would be more filling for our families.
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5



patkar
17-02-2012 04:10pm
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funny sense of freedom
the freedom you refer to is probably into the choice of the heggad or the niqab( as long they are black!), the freedom to go to the beach with your fiancee,the freedom to be a Shiite , the freedom to chose to drink beer instead of smoking pot, the freedom to disagree or criticize.The freedom of refusing to be brainwashed with "his master's voice " America is meaning well in helping a people , not a political group, manipulated for their illiteracy and ignorance following a too long period of utter darkness.
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4



Medhat Omran
17-02-2012 09:36am
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American naievety?
The Americans on Both houses must rid themselves from the agressive policy and that attitude of lawless cowboy gear towards Egypt.They have yet to understand the Egyptian mentality and culture.Their problem is they think they know it all when in fact they do NOT,naive thinking..How many times history and events proved them wrong?Well,numerous times.They should know that,Egypt wants to follow the rule of law and let the courts decide the outcome of this saga and therefore they should not interfer.If they believe their nationals are innocent of any wrong doing,so why dont they wait and allow the trial to be concluded,or are they afraid they will be found out that their agents and dirty tricks are being in action all the while? it is not democracy what they advocate but blatant aggression using the carrot & stick policy which will not work with the EGYPTIANS. I advise them to go back to the diplomatic drawing board and rethink. Medhat Omran,Brunei
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Hector M
17-02-2012 09:18am
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US lawmakers warn US-Egypt ties nearing 'precipice'
It is time that US hegemoney is nearing end in the world. Paper tiger has lost its fake teeth. Not even a small country is fearful of US. Mubarak era is over. What Ackerman(US Israeli agent) is saying is that let US operate illegally in Egypt, let them influence elcroral process, let them incite violence through bought out foreign thugs Like Ausies, Brits, Germans and Egyptians agents. Egypt is finally free go take a hike Uncle Sam.
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No. 123
16-02-2012 04:39pm
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Take the money and run
Who cares about their policies. Take their money and ignore what they are saying. Worry about building your food producing capacity before you take on a country that will try to destroy you for the smallest reason. After you have a secure food supply, then you can do whatever you want. On top of that, they want you to do something stupid so that they can cut off your aid. Their economy is bad, so it is only a favor to them to have your aid cut. Third, don't expect to remilitarize Sinai without good military equipment. They will try and punish Egypt for this, so it is important to have a good capability to protect the country. Fourth, the country is in transition and they want it to fail. Don't do anything to prove them right. Focus on building the country first before dealing with the outside. Build the economy (and don't base it on tourism because it is vulnerable to politics), build agriculture, raise the gas prices for exports, cut subsidies, tell Ethiopia that the Nile is Egy
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1



Free Lady
16-02-2012 01:03pm
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Freedom
Freedom is 1000s time better then slavery. We cant sell 80 million egyptians for 1.03 billion dollars. Mubarak time is over so its policies. Americans should realize this change and leave old age bullying and imerial ways. Threats, sanctions, comparing to Iran will make Egypt more strong and respected. America is a history. they should think how to borrow from China to bail out.
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nash
17-02-2012 03:14pm
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Freedom & National Laws
Are Americans immuned from other countries law? They should practice what they preach.
zakki
17-02-2012 10:28am
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aid
Nobody want to buy 80 million Egyptians for 1.03 billion dollars. USA want to help your country with aid, like they yearly done since 1979. Only one condition by this help is that Egypt will have good relations to his neighbours, which is by civilizated states not nessesery to pay for it. Not by Egypt...
Observer
16-02-2012 05:05pm
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What freedom
@Freedom,, You really think with the muslim brotherhood controlling
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