A Tale of Two Reports

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The last time the Government Accountability Office surveyed U.S. arms sales to Egypt, in 2006, it reported:

Since 1979, Egypt received more than $60 billion in military and economic assistance from the United States and is currently among the largest recipients of U.S. assistance worldwide, along with Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq. In fiscal year 2005, Egypt received nearly $1.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants, which comprises about 80 percent of Egypt’s military procurement budget and more than 25 percent of the total amount of FMF assistance provided worldwide. Over the life of the program, Egypt has acquired 36 Apache helicopters, 220 F-16 aircraft, and 880 M1A1 tanks—among other items—as well as the training and maintenance to support these systems…Although officials and several experts assert that the FMF program to Egypt supports U.S. foreign policy and security goals, State and DOD do not assess how the program specifically contributes to these goals. U.S. and Egyptian officials cited examples of Egypt’s support for U.S. interests, such as maintaining Egyptian-Israeli peace and providing access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace…Egyptian officials stated that 52 percent of their military inventory is U.S. equipment as of August 2005.

The last time the State Department surveyed human rights in Egypt, in March 2010, it reported:

The government’s respect for human rights remained poor, and serious abuses continued in many areas. The government limited citizens’ right to change their government and continued a state of emergency that has been in place almost continuously since 1967. Security forces used unwarranted lethal force and tortured and abused prisoners and detainees, in most cases with impunity. Prison and detention center conditions were poor. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals, in some cases for political purposes, and kept them in prolonged pretrial detention. The executive branch exercised control over and pressured the judiciary. The government’s respect for freedoms of association and religion remained poor during the year, and the government continued to restrict nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The government partially restricted freedom of expression.

There’s not a lot for the U.S. military to do as Hosni Mubarak’s government seems to be entering its final days. The opposition is largely centered on domestic concerns. Unlike the Iranian revolution of 1979, the demonstrators are not denouncing America. They want jobs and free elections.

The bad news is U.S. taxpayers have spent about $40 billion on Egypt’s military since Mubarak took power in 1981. The good news is that Egypt’s 83 million people respect the military – it’s the police they revile. Whew.