The United States is releasing $250 million in aid to Egypt as a “good-faith effort” to help the Egyptian people. US Secretary of State John Kerry announced the move on Monday.
The $250 million will be earmarked for economic aid. More is pledged, should the country’s president, Mohamed Morsi, implement economic and political reforms.
CNN reports that Kerry released a written statement about the aid, saying:
“When Egypt takes the difficult steps to strengthen its economy and build political unity and justice, we will work with our Congress at home on additional support.”
Kerry added that the United States will also provide $60 million in funding for the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund.
The fund will be aimed at helping the Middle Eastern nation’s entrepeneurs, as well as funding a higher-education initiative that will help students — especially women — earn undergrad degrees. The funds will be specifically for science, technology, engineering, and business.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the announcement that the US will release aid to Egypt was not supported by Morsi’s critics. Opposition politicians claimed that Washington’s decision to supply aid signaled support for Morsi’s power grabs, as well as his Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Gameela Ismail, a leader of the main non-Islamis political group, stated of the incoming US aid:
“You [in the US] have supported … military rule, and now you are supporting a religious rule just because it serves your interests.”
US officials denied the charges. They stressed instead that Kerry’s two-day stop in Cairo was aimed at addressing the mounting concerns about Egypt’s finances. The opposition has also threatened to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections in April because of recent constitutional changes that Morsi’s administration has made.
The opposition believes that the changes Morsi has made will create a political system that is governed by Islamic laws, undermining the Egyptians’ quest for democracy. Instead, Morsi has said that the changes will help Egypt transition from the rule of former president and dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Should the US release $250 million in aid to Egypt, or should they hold off until the country proves to be a democracy?
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]