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Sunday, August 14, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Egypt's new regime accuses U.S. of attempting
to buy reforms

CAIRO — Tensions are rising between Egypt and the United States over the latter's pro-democracy programs.


Egypt's new military regime has launched a campaign to stop non-governmental organizations from accepting U.S. aid. The regime has warned that all U.S. assistance, including those for democracy programs, must be approved by the government.

"It is a matter of sovereignty," Maj. Gen. Mohammed Assar, a member and spokesman of the Egyptian Supreme Armed Forces Council, said.

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Officials said the military regime has warned the administration of President Barack Obama that Washington's offer to NGOs violates Egyptian law.

They said the military leadership, which ordered an investigation of U.S. aid, views the administration effort as a means to undermine the government in wake of the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

The tension was said to have stemmed from advertisements placed by the U.S. Agency for International Development in March that invited NGOs to apply for American funds. Washington was said to have allocated more than $10 million to a series of Egyptian groups deemed pro-democracy. Egypt has already been receiving $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid.

The State Department offer sparked an Egyptian investigation of NGOs believed to have received the U.S. funds. Two of them were identified as the April 6 Movement and Kefaya, both of which played a major role in the protests that ousted Mubarak in February.

On Aug. 11, the tension between Cairo and Washington led to the transfer of the director of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Egypt. Jim Bever, the director, was recalled to Washington a day after the State Department criticized the military regime in Cairo for encouraging anti-American sentiment.

"He will be returning to Washington to take on new responsibilities and prepare for his next deployment," a U.S. embassy statement said.

The regime has also been investigating journalists deemed independent on their source of income. Officials have acknowledged a military crackdown on media outlets and journalists who report news unfavorable to the post-Mubarak government.

The state-owned Egyptian media have also been attacking U.S. policy toward Egypt. One magazine called U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson, who arrived on Aug. 1, "the ambassador from hell."

"With regard to this kind of anti-Americanism that's creeping into the Egyptian public discourse, we are concerned," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

"We have expressed these concerns to the Egyptian government. We think this kind of representation of the United States is not only inaccurate. It's unfair. We are very strong supporters of Egypt's transition to a democratic future, and we will continue to be there for Egypt."

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