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Thursday, August 4, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Congress to evaluate aid to post-Mubarak Egypt

WASHINGTON — Congress is expected to examine the feasibility of continued U.S. assistance to Egypt.


The Congressional Research Service has asserted that the House and Senate could review U.S. military aid to Cairo in 2011. In a report, CRS said the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak has forced Congress to examine the U.S. alliance with Egypt.

"The revolution of January 2011 suggests that the terms of recent debate over U.S. assistance to Egypt may change significantly in the coming months," CRS said in a report titled "Egypt In Transition."

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The report, dated June 17 and authored by Jeremy Sharp, cited the annual U.S. military assistance to Egypt of $1.3 billion, making the Arab state the second largest recipient after Israel. For fiscal 2012, the administration of President Barack Obama has requested $1.55 billion in Foreign Military Financing as well as civilian aid for Cairo.

"FMF aid to Egypt is divided into three general categories: 1] acquisitions, 2] upgrades to existing equipment, and 3] follow-on support/maintenance contracts," the report said.

Sharp did not raise the prospect that Washington would significantly revise U.S. aid to Egypt. The report cited Egyptian concerns of a drop in the value of military aid as well as administration proposals to increase civilian aid, particularly to promote democracy.

"Egyptian military officials have repeatedly sought additional FMF funds to offset the escalating costs of follow-on support," the report said. "They point out that as costs rise, static aid appropriations amount to a reduction in net assistance."

A major U.S. military program in Egypt was the co-production of 1,200 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks. The report said U.S. aid to Egypt could comprise up to 80 percent of its military procurement budget.

CRS said Egypt faced an increasing insurgency threat in the Sinai Peninsula. The report cited a series of attacks on the Arab Gas Pipeline, which supplies neighboring Israel and Jordan.

"In addition to smuggling weapons, Bedouin Arabs in the Sinai Peninsula also are believed to be behind several acts of sabotage to a gas pipeline running from Egypt to Israel and Jordan," the report said.

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