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Nobel laureate Zewail urges US not to cut aid to Egypt

Prominent scientist Ahmed Zewail says cutting US aid would threaten mutually beneficial relations between the US and Egypt

Ahram Online, Wednesday 5 Nov 2014
Nobel prize winning scientist Ahmed Zewail takes part in a discussion on new constitution at the Shura Council in Cairo on 11 September 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

In an op-ed to Los Angeles times published this week, Nobel laureate in chemistry Ahmed Zewail argued the US should not cut aid to Egypt to maintain regional peace and enhance democracy.

Zewail further defended his view saying that the US needs Egypt's partnership to preserve the peace treaty with Israel and fight terrorism in the region.

The prominent scientist warned of the danger of cutting aid by pointing how the Soviet Union filled in the void left when US cut aid during former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser's presidency. He added that it was only when president Anwar El-Sadat restored relations with the US was peace achieved between Egypt and Israel.

Zewail denied claims that the presidential elections that brought former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to the presidency were rigged adding that the support he still has is proof. He opined that had El-Sisi not have popularity he could not have embarked on recent economic reforms including cutting subsidies on energy and bread.

Highlighting remaining controversial issues such as laws governing NGOs, political prisoners awaiting trial and the need to reintegrating the Muslim Brotherhood into politics, Zewail said the US should "engage Egypt through direct dialogue and partnership" and "wield its considerable soft power".

Zewail's article comes amid recurrent calls from members of congress since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July to freeze aid to Egypt.

In October of last year, Washington withheld from the Egyptian government deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopters and missiles, as well as $260 million in cash aid, saying it was pending progress in the areas of democracy and human rights.

However, recently the US released ten Apache helicopters in support of Egypt's fight against terrorism in Sinai and allowed the release of its annual $1.3 billion military assistance package.  

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