There is no overestimating the importance of the U.S.-Egypt relationship to Middle Eastern affairs.
As this editorial proves, that’s not true. The editors describe Obama’s decision as a “harsh nod to reality,” but it would be more accurate to call it a belated admission that the administration never much cared about opposing the coup or the dictatorship that followed. The administration went to great lengths to avoid calling the coup what it was back in 2013, and it has done almost everything it could to ignore the requirements of U.S. law that dictate that the U.S. suspend military assistance to Egypt. If the U.S. hasn’t quite bent over backwards to excuse the new dictatorship’s abuses, it certainly hasn’t done much to suggest that it disapproves. Now the administration is dropping any pretense that it was ever bothered by Egypt’s post-coup government.
The editorial calls this move a “necessary evil,” but there is nothing necessary about it. The administration is resuming aid to this dictatorship because it can and because it wants to, and it is flouting U.S. law in the process. Any conditions that are attached to the aid won’t provide the U.S. with any real leverage in the future, since the administration has already made clear that it will never use its leverage with Egypt for fear of “losing” its influence. Because of that, it has ensured that the U.S. won’t really have any influence over its client, but it will be implicated in whatever the client chooses to do.