Egypt’s FM to U.S.: Cut Off Aid and You Will Hurt Yourself

October 19, 2013  

Egypt’s Foreign Minister said on Thursday that his country will “find other sources” of funding after the U.S. announced it would suspend its military support to Egypt.

At the same, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy warned in an interview with CNN that the U.S. would hurting itself if cut off aid to Egypt.

“If your friends in the region, when they’re facing terrorism in particular, cannot depend on a continuous supply of equipment that deals with terrorism, then you are obviously going to raise questions in the mind of those friends about your dependability,” he said, referring to the United States.

“And that will affect your interests as well as those of your friends, like Egypt,” Fahmy added, calling the suspension of some aid a “freeze, or delay” – not a “cut-off.”

The United States announced last week that it would withdraw a significant portion of its military aid to Egypt.

The U.S. provides $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt, but no dollar amount of the aid being cut was provided.

The decision came after months of debate since President Mohammed Morsi was deposed in early July. U.S. law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, but the U.S. has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a “coup” and has been cautious about doing so.

The harsh government crackdown on pro-Morsi protestors in the past – including hundreds killed in August and dozens just last week – was seen as a step too far by the interim government.

Fahmy pleaded with the international community to be patient with Egypt.

“I refer you back to the U.S. system,” Fahmy told CNN. “It took you a very long number of years before you gave African Americans equal rights in America. So let’s just respect how difficult it has been.”

“For lack of a better term, we’re between a rock and a hard place,” Fahmy said of Morsi’s trial, which is due to start on November 4. “If there is no trial, then people will argue that you cannot hold somebody under arrest without putting him before the courts, and I agree with that.”

Fahmy admitted that the trial will be a “difficult phase.”

“Once you put him to trial obviously it will raise tensions,” he told CNN. “But we have to respect the law, we have to allow for due diligence, we have to provide people due process and the right to defend themselves, and that’s what’s going to happen.”

Fahmy portrayed the military ousting of President Morsi, a democratically elected leader, as a necessary step.

“While we last year elected a president through a democratic process, he did not then govern democratically and wanted to pursue non-inclusive politics,” he said.

Now, Fahmy said, Egypt is facing “the result of having to depose two presidents in two-and-a-half years.”

“The challenge, frankly, is not about pleasing the United States or pleasing the West,” he said. “It’s about finding a democratic system that includes all Egyptians.”

“It’s not going to be easy; there will be ups and downs,” he told CNN. “What we’re trying to do, almost, is a miracle in comparison to how long and how many stumbles other countries went through before they developed their democracy.”

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