The PJ Tatler

Say, Why Don't We Cut Off Aid to Egypt's Military While We're Pondering Helping the Jihadists in Syria?

Here’s a fact that doesn’t come up much in history-based analyses of Syria: Jihadists sided with Hitler during World War II. It’s not “isolationist” to point that out, or question the wisdom of helping today’s jihadists in Syria now. They haven’t changed their goals, just their PR.

Anyway, while Barack Obama denies setting any “red lines” and ponders pinpricking Assad’s military in a mostly symbolic strike that will either embolden Assad or help the jihadists oust him, Obama is also pondering helping the jihadists in Egypt. That would be the effect of cutting off aid to Egypt’s military, at this point.

President Barack Obama’s top national security aides have recommended that the U.S. suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic assistance to Egypt in response to the Egyptian military’s ouster of the country’s first democratically elected leader, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Such a step would be a dramatic shift for an administration that has declined to label Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s July 3 ouster a coup and has argued that it is in U.S. national security interests to keep the aid flowing. It would also likely have profound implications for decades of close U.S.-Egyptian ties that have served as a bulwark of security and stability in the Middle East.

The officials say the recommendation has been with Obama for at least a week but they don’t expect him to make a decision until after the full Congress votes on his request for authorization for military strikes on Syria, which is not expected before Monday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations.

Obama did not cut off aid to Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood ruled. In fact, he approved the transfer of combat aircraft and tanks to Egypt. He approved sending them $450 million to help pay off their national debt (adding to our own, of course). The Brotherhood thanked him by orchestrating* last year’s takeover of the US embassy in Cairo to demand the release of the Blind Sheik — mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

But now, after the people of Egypt tired of Islamist rule and chucked the totalitarian Brotherhood out of power, Obama’s best and brightest want to cut off aid.

Why? Is it impolite to wonder, who’s side are they on? Well, I guess I’ll be impolite. We need to know who these advisers are. Is it DNI James “mostly secular” Clapper? Secretary of State John “Winter Soldier” Kerry? Who is suggesting that now is a great time to slap the Egyptian military in the face?

Cutting off aid, at this juncture, would strongly signal that the United States is displeased with the Muslim Brotherhood’s ouster. It would strongly signal that Egypt should re-instate Mohammed Morsi or see its longstanding friendly relationship with the United States end. It will end up making even more enemies among the Egyptian people (who already don’t like us very much).

Is this the signal that we ought to send?

While leaving the exact amount to be suspended up to the president, the principals have recommended that it include all foreign military financing to Egypt’s army except for money that supports security in the increasingly volatile Sinai Peninsula and along Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip, the officials said.

Let’s target the army, the only force for long-term stability in Egypt, when that country is on the brink of civil war that would make Syria’s look like nothing. Great idea.

*That’s an educated hypothesis based on this threat that Islamic Jihad and Al Gamaa Al Islamiyya issued on September 10, 2012. The Tatler was the only Western source to report this warning/threat to burn the US embassy in Cairo The attack on that embassy occurred the following day, during which jihadists took down the American flag and replaced with the black flag of Islamic terrorism. Both of those groups, like al Qaeda, are offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood was in control of Egypt at the time of the attack, and it publicly supported the attack on social media in Arabic while sending more soothing messages in English.