US sequester cuts will hit military aid to Israel and Egypt

1aabbc
(Digital Journal) -As the sequester cuts on the military kick in, military aid to  Israel and Egypt may face cutbacks to help save military spending domestically.

Israel is working to protect US military aid. The $85  billion in automatic cuts that Obama approved on March 1 could involve up to  $729 million less in aid for Israel. Funding for missile-defense systems such as  the Iron Dome and Arrow are threatened.

Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren said:“The Israeli  Embassy still doesn’t know what will be the extent of the sequester. The aid to  Israel is included in the federal budget. Just as this budget is cut, so can the  aid to Israel. As the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East, Israel  understands the complex budgetary challenges the Americans face. We are ready to  carry our share of the burden, while trying to maintain the same projects that  are essential to the security of the State of Israel, among them the Iron  Dome.” Israel may try to keep funding for its missile defense system at the  expense of general military aid.

Funds for the Iron Dome shield are additional to the regular military aid to Israel. As noted  in a Washington Post article last May:The Iron Dome funds, already in  legislation before Congress, will be on top of the $3.1 billion in military aid  grants being provided to Israel in 2013 and every year thereafter through  2017.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham  (R-S.C.) introduced a Senate motion that says the United States should help  Israel militarily and economically if it acts against Iran in  self-defense.“We have no better friends in that part of the world than  Israel. Last year President Obama told the people of Israel, ‘We have your  back.’ Our resolution builds upon that statement and makes it clear that if  Israel is one day forced to protect themselves we will stand with Israel.”

While there will probably be some cuts  to Israeli aid, military aid to Egypt will face even higher hurdles. US  lawmakers generally favor aid to Israel but the $1.3 billion a year aid to Egypt  is coming under fire by more and more US lawmakers.The aid has included fleets  of M1A1 tanks and F16 fighter jets.

John Kerry has insisted that  disengaging with Egypt would be a mistake. He is meeting this weekend in Cairo  with Egyptian leaders. The US wants to review military aid policy to Egypt now  that they do not have an established pro-western authoritarian such as Mubarak  in power but a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. Already bills have been  introduced in the House and Senate to halt military aid temporarily or end them  entirely. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Florida said:“Why are we  giving billions to Egypt, when in my mind it is not a friend of America? We’re  drowning in a sea of debt. Why are we spending so much money in a part of the  world that doesn’t like us?”

Since 1979, after the signing of the  Camp David Accords peace deal, Egypt and Israel have remained the top recipients  of US foreign aid. Those accords are very unpopular among the Egyptian populace.  Egyptian dependency on US foreign aid gives the US leverage that induces the  Egyptian government to adhere to the terms of the agreement. If  aid is  withdrawn the Egyptian government would not have as much incentive to continue  following an unpopular policy. Egypt also helped negotiate a ceasefire during  the Gaza conflict.

David S Adams, assistant secretary of state for legislative  affairs said:“Maintaining this relationship and assisting with the  professionalization and the building of the Egyptian Armed Forces’ capabilities  to secure its borders is one of our key interests in the region. Egypt continues  to play an important role in regional peace and stability.”

John MacCain the Republican senator  from Arizona takes a more moderate approach in suggesting that aid to Egypt  should be focused more on tools for counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. John  Kerry maintained that cutting off Egyptian aid would be very damaging to US policy  interests in the middle east:“Egypt is a quarter of the Arab world. It is  critical to everything we aspire to see happen in the Middle East.”

 

Advertisements

One thought on “US sequester cuts will hit military aid to Israel and Egypt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s