Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is close to announcing plans to bypass those restrictions on national security grounds, according to senior administration officials and others who have been briefed on the deliberations but were not authorized to speak publicly. The administration believes failure to provide the funds would risk worsening already fraying ties with Egypt’s leaders, most notably the Egyptian military, which still controls the country.
|Here's your bread, Dawg|
Under the plan, which was announced last week and was first reported Friday by the New York Times, Egypt would not receive the full $1.3 billion all at once, as has been the practice for decades. The administration would instead dole out the funds in smaller portions to preserve leverage over Egyptian authorities, officials said. The plan would also allow for the continuation of U.S. defense contracts that provide American jobs.
With a presidential election coming in Egypt, officials said they are especially hesitant to release the full amount until they see what kind of government will be receiving it. The question is, "What kind of leadership will replace the military?"
There’s been enormous pressure from the Pentagon to unfreeze something before payments to contractors go past due,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington director for Human Rights Watch. “But this whole argument that American jobs are at stake just is not appropriate here when we’re talking about human rights. This sends the wrong message that the crisis is over and has been solved.”
|Patrick J. Leahy|
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the main sponsor of legislation passed last year that tied funding for Egypt to progress on democracy and rights, said he was deeply disappointed. “I believe a waiver would be a mistake,” he said. “The new conditions are intended to put the United States squarely on the side of the Egyptian people who seek a civilian government that respects fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, and to clearly define the terms of our future relations with the Egyptian military.”
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Clinton has not yet reached an official decision but added: “We want to support a more democratic and a more prosperous Egypt. And we want to see the region stay secure. So those are a lot of things that have to be kept strong and kept in balance.”
|Protesters in Cairo over US funding|
Opposition to outside aid has grown stronger over time, the poll of 1,000 respondents showed. Egyptian attitudes about assistance from the U.S. soured at the same time the country began accusing Americans working for non-governmental organizations of trying to stir up unrest, Gallup said.