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Monday, August 29, 2011

Egypt in Transition

Jeremy M. Sharp
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

On February 11, 2011, President Hosni Mubarak resigned from the presidency after 29 years in power. For 18 days, a popular peaceful uprising spread across Egypt and ultimately forced Mubarak to cede power to the military. How Egypt transitions to a more democratic system in the months ahead will have major implications for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and for other countries in the region ruled by monarchs and dictators.

This report provides a brief overview of the transition underway and information on U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. U.S. policy toward Egypt has long been framed as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running military cooperation and sustaining the March 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Successive U.S. Administrations have viewed Egypt’s government as a moderating influence in the Middle East. U.S. policy makers are now grappling with complex questions about the future of U.S.-Egypt relations, and these debates are likely to influence consideration of appropriations and authorization legislation in the 112th Congress. The United States has provided Egypt with an annual average of $2 billion in economic and military foreign assistance since 1979. For FY2012, the Obama Administration has requested $1.551 billion in total aid to Egypt.

On July 27, 2011, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs marked up its FY2012 State-Foreign Operations appropriation, proposing that Egypt receive the full FY2012 request ($1.551 billion), including $1.3 billion in military aid and that military aid should also be used for “border security programs and activities in the Sinai, with the expectation that the Egyptian military will continue to adhere to and implement its international obligations, particularly the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.” Section 7042 of the draft bill also provides up to $250 million in economic assistance to Egypt though it specifies these funds are not available until the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt is not controlled by a foreign terrorist organization or its affiliates or supporters, is implementing the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, and is taking steps to detect and destroy the smuggling network and tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza strip. The bill further states that no U.S. economic assistance in the bill may be used to “reduce, reschedule, or forgive the debt of the Government of Egypt to the United States Government unless authorized for such purposes.”

Date of Report: August 23, 2011
Number of Pages: 25
Order Number: RL33003
Price: $29.95

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