Recent political protests calling for the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak pose serious policy questions for the U.S. government and the Congress, especially the $2 billion in U.S. economic and military assistance provided to Egypt annually.
Since 1979, Egypt has been the second—largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, after Israel.
“The unrest of January 2011 suggests that the terms of recent debate over U.S. assistance to Egypt may change significantly in the coming months,” according to a Congressional Research Service report.
“High—level officials have largely refrained from publically admonishing Egypt’s poor human rights and democracy record. U.S. foreign assistance levels remain unchanged despite some calls from opponents to either cut or condition aid,” the report said.
U.S. policy towards Egypt has historically been framed as an investment in regional stability, military cooperation, and sustaining the 1979 Egyptian—Israeli peace treaty.
Despite signs of deteriorating health, Mubarak has kept a cloud of uncertainty around potential presidential successors, helping to preserve authority during his 30—year rule. Until now, his most likely successor was thought to be his 47-year-old son Gamal. A dramatic change in leadership would ultimately alter U.S.—Egypt relationships, possibly to the detriment of some preferential military cooperation the U.S. receives.
U.S. policymakers’ attitudes towards the Mubarak regime range from opposition to a brutal dictatorship, to acceptance of a government that is stable and supportive of U.S. foreign policy goals. The U.S. has strong interests in Egypt, including the Israeli—Palestinian peace process, preferential access to the Suez Canal, and cooperation with Egyptian intelligence offices.
FAST FACT: Egypt faces a number of socioeconomic problems, like high inflation, unemployment and poverty. Over half of the population is under age 24, and 600,000 people enter the workforce every year.
Following are other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities.
- The Pentagon could improve efforts to protect the hearing of service members. Hazardous noise on the battlefield and in training can be damaging. Hearing-related disability benefits to veterans exceeded $1.1 billion for 2009. (GAO)
- The cost of health care premiums has been trending upwards, while the value of coverage is going down. Administrative and medical costs continue to rise, but the rate of growth slowed between 2008 and 2009. Data on the price of health insurance suggests than the rise in medical costs is primarily due to the price of services, and not people using health coverage more often. (Congressional Research Service)