1 February 2013

Egypt: U.S. Aid to Egypt Must Continue Despite Unrest - Kerry

Ending US aid to Egypt could contribute to "chaos" in the country, future secretary of state, John Kerry, has warned.

President Obama has requested almost $2 billion in aid for Egypt, about 80 per cent of which is for the military, and Congress seems willing to comply, for the time being at least.

"A hold up of aid might contribute to the chaos that may ensue because of their collapsing economy...their biggest problem is a collapsing economy," Kerry told New York-based NBC News.

Egypt is strategically important to the United States, especially because President Morsy has continued to support the peace treaty with Israel, and has taken steps to overcome security challenges in the Sinai Peninsula, Kerry explained.

Other US senators have also spoken of the importance of continuing US aid to Egypt. During a trip to Egypt in January, veteran Republican senator John McCain said Israel was in favor of continuing the aid, and the US should "listen to the Israelis."

However, in November he called on the Obama administration to withhold financial aid from Egypt unless Morsy responded to opposition demands and rescinded a controversial decree that was later reversed. "Egypt's adherence to its obligations under the 1979 peace treaty with Israel requires ongoing US support for Egypt's economy," Democrat senator Chris Coon said during a recent trip to Egypt.

The US provides more than $2 billion in financial aid to Egypt each year, the majority going to the military. Since 1979 Egypt has been the second-largest recipient of US military and economic aid after Israel.

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