As the body count rises in Egypt, the U.S. has put a temporary halt on all forms of aid to the region. The question of whether or not aid will be reinstated at a future time cannot exactly be answered for the situation is complex. If the continuation of military support to Egypt, in its current state, was to be sustained, it may only be seen as a reward for the recent bloodshed. Egypt may be attempting to start down the path toward democracy but the killing and arresting of those involved in non-violent demonstrations is in conflict with democracy’s core principle; the rights of the people should trump all. However, if the violence was put to an end, there is no reason why aid could not begin again.
Aside from the desire to see Egypt progress as a democratic body, the U.S. naturally has other self-benefiting motives. In a volatile region such as the Middle East, it is most advantageous to have as many allies as possible. According to the Council of Foreign Relations, the U.S. is mainly responsible for bolstering Egypt’s military, and, in times of war, it has done well to serve the U.S. by any means. A poor decision in this delicate state of affairs could tarnish foreign relations with Egypt creating difficulties not only in our time but for future administrations as well.
Should President Obama decide to withdraw U.S. backing permanently, repercussions could ensue. The Suez Canal, a man-made waterway connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas with the Indian Ocean, is a vital passage for vessels transporting the major commodities of our world – namely oil. As explained by an article in The Telegraph, greater upset in the North African country could cause this route to be closed off. With such a situation, cargo ships would need to travel almost 3,000 miles out of the way in order to complete shipments, resulting in the loss of time and money.
We also must not forget that without U.S. influence, Egypt could develop an ambiguous attitude with regard to terrorism. This would generate issues in the realm of national security for those of us here in the U.S., Europe and any other country aligned with the West.
Installing a democratic government in Egypt would not only benefit those abroad but, most importantly, the Egyptian people for whom enduring gender, opportunity and income inequalities is an integral part of life. Per blogs. worldbank.org, data shows that income inequality, specifically, often arises from situations outside of an individual’s power and is naturally “higher than in the most egalitarian countries.” Just treatment is an unassailable human right to be experienced by everyone. Although the road toward such an idea will be long and strewn with many obstructions, its end result will be worthwhile. Ultimately Egypt needs the guidance of the U.S. in this period of transition and crisis.
It all comes down to the words of Robert Kennedy, “through no virtues and accomplishments of our own, we have been fortunate enough to be born in the United States under the most comfortable conditions. We, therefore, have a responsibility to others who are less well off.”
If Egypt is left to its own devices it is a very real possibility the country could be put hopelessly asunder, jeopardizing both the quality of life of its people and those around the globe. Now is the time for firm, decisive action on the part of the U.S. to help Egypt help itself.
Junior Political Science Major