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Bronwen Maddox: “Obama must end aid to Egypt”

Editor of Prospect and expert on global politics, Bronwen Maddox gave her opinion on the current situation in Egypt in yesterday’s The Times. The article titled ‘Obama must end aid to Egypt before more die’ is well worth reading.

Bronwen believes that the West’s “tangled and tentative” response to what she describes as “the worst crisis that Egypt has faced in the two years since revolution first gripped Tahrir Square” must be changed. News over the weekend that Egypt’s Internal Minister plans to recreate the securty and intelligence forces of Mubarak’s 30 year rule is, Browen claims, a formula for civil war.

She advocates an immediate response by foreign governments to be necessary: “they can’t afford to equivocate now”. The West’s “statements of tortuous caution” issued so far have not been sufficient, instead the US can use the power of its aid and Britain and the EU can offer economic help. Bronwen fears that otherwise reconciliation will become a fantasy.

Egypt’s complexity is a result of divisions between secular liberals (who support links with the West), other secularists (who support the military) and the more conservative/religious (who look to Islam for rules). Growing problems in the country include a rise in inflation and unemployment alongside a collapse in foreign investment and tourism.

The next steps are clear to Bronwen: “Mr Obama should now threaten to cut off aid.” Although it is tempting to suggest that the military can bring order to the country, Bronwen reminds of the example of Pakistan  in 1999 when General Musharraf overthrew the government which ultimately delayed the country’s return to democracy by two years.

Bronwen recognises that removing aid may not persuade those who have seized power in Egypt to surrender at the negotiating table but she concludes “as the death toll rapidly rises, it is a threat worth making.”

Click here to read the article in full

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