It’s Time to Downgrade the U.S. Relationship with Egypt
Richard Sokolsky and Andrew Miller call for reducing military assistance to Egypt and recognizing that the relationship with Cairo is not as useful as it once was:
There was a time when both countries derived important mutual benefits, including reliable Egyptian support for the United States’ interests in the Middle East. But over the past decade, the United States has poured more than $13 billion in security assistance into Egypt with little to show for it except more jobs for a defense industry exporting materiél that is ill-suited to Egypt’s defense needs and that allow the Egyptian military to sustain a patronage system that distorts the economy and fuels corruption.
The case for reducing U.S. support for Egypt is quite strong. If anything, Sokolsky and Miller don’t take their argument as far as they could. Scaling back military assistance to Egypt would be a welcome improvement, but in light of the coup that brought the current government to power and the continued abuses under Sisi’s dictatorship it would be appropriate to suspend that assistance entirely for the foreseeable future. Sisi’s rule has been a fine example of how brutish repression does not deliver security. There is no good reason for the U.S. to continue indulging an abusive dictatorship that does so little to advance U.S. interests. Egypt’s status as a U.S. client is a relic of another era and has less and less relevance to U.S. interests as time goes by. Like other bad clients in the region, Egypt has become a liability to the U.S. and doesn’t merit the support that Washington has provided more or less automatically for so many decades.
Sokolsky and Miller’s op-ed title says that Egypt is a “terrible ally,” but this actually oversells the value of the relationship. The truth is that Egypt is not an ally at all and shouldn’t be considered one, and we have given that name to the relationship to exaggerate its importance. The relationship with Egypt should be reassessed and downgraded accordingly, and our other bad regional clients should get the same treatment.