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Friday, December 21, 2012

Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations

Jeremy M. Sharp
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

This report provides a brief overview of the key issues for Congress related to Egypt and information on U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. The United States has provided significant military and economic assistance to Egypt since the late 1970s. U.S. policy makers have routinely justified aid to Egypt as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running military cooperation and on sustaining the March 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Successive U.S. Administrations have viewed Egypt’s government as generally influencing developments in the Middle East in line with U.S. interests. U.S. policy makers are now grappling with complex questions about the future of U.S.-Egypt relations, and these debates and events in Egypt are shaping consideration of appropriations and authorization legislation in the 112th Congress.

For Obama Administration officials and the U.S. military, there is a clear desire to engage Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi’s new government on a host of issues, including immediate economic support and Sinai security. For others, opportunities for renewed diplomacy may be overshadowed by disruptive political trends that have been unleashed by the so-called Arab awakening and allowed for more expression of anti-Americanism, radical Islamist politics, antipathy toward Israel, and sectarianism, among others.

For FY2013, President Obama is requesting $1.55 billion in total bilateral aid to Egypt ($1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic aid). The aid levels requested are unchanged from FY2012 appropriations. In late September 2012, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger placed holds on a congressionally notified $450 million Economic Support Fund (ESF) cash transfer to Egypt. Those funds that would have been used to pay down Egypt’s bilateral debt to the United States in exchange for Egyptian government commitment to a fiscal stabilization program as prescribed by the International Monetary Fund. As of early December 2012, the holds on the cash transfer remain in place.

Date of Report: December 6, 2012
Number of Pages: 20
Order Number: RL33003
Price: $29.95

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