As the chaos continues in Egypt, there’s a particularly troublesome development that should raise the concern of all sides in this debate.
In the midst of turmoil, uncertainty, and continuing violence, the Obama administration now says that in the news few weeks it plans to send the latest shipment of high-tech U.S. F-16s to Egypt. The shipment is part of our $1.3 billion dollar-a-year gift of military aid – a move that even the liberal editorial page of the New York Times calls “provocative.”
In addition to the fighter jets, the U.S. is supplying state-of-the-art tanks to Egypt.
All of this weaponry is now in the hands of...who knows?
We do know that the radical Islamists who governed the country until the uprising a week ago are hostile to America and to our allies. Who ends up governing in Egypt – and who is in control of U.S. supplied weapons – is still very much uncertain.
Amidst all the complexities of foreign policy, there are some simple principles that can guide the Obama administration as it sorts through the chaos in Egypt. Among the simplest is this: American aid should be for American allies – and only for American allies.
One would think this principle would be so elementary that it’s hardly worth repeating, but the Obama administration not only funded an American enemy – the now-deposed Muslim Brotherhood-led Egyptian government – but did so zealously enough to actually waive statutory human rights restrictions attached to American aid.
The sheer disaster of this action is tough to overstate.
At the stroke of an administration pen put to the American checkbook, the Obama White House put itself squarely on the side of the oppressor, leading to the unthinkable reality that last week’s revolutionary protests were both anti-Muslim Brotherhood and anti-American.
As state-of-the-art American weapons and American economic aid flowed to the Muslim Brotherhood-led government, it was ramming through a Shariah-based constitution, violating the Camp David Accords by moving armored vehicles into the Sinai, failing to secure both the American and Israeli embassies, refusing to cooperate with American investigations of the Benghazi attacks, and violently persecuting Christians.
These actions came from a government that was also openly and unabashedly anti-Semitic. Egypt’s deposed president had called Jews the descendents of “apes” and “pigs” and called for Egyptian children to be “nursed” on “hatred” for Israel.
Yet American money still flowed freely.
It’s time to impose some common sense. The American taxpayer is not an Egyptian ATM.
In the coming weeks, a new Egyptian government is likely to emerge, and that government should be required to meet – at a minimum – three clear conditions before it sees a single dime of American military or economic assistance.
First, the new Egyptian government must fully comply with the Camp David Accords -- the country's long-standing peace treaty with Israel.
That means appropriately demilitarizing the Sinai; re-opening (and protecting) the Israeli embassy in Cairo and cutting off any support for terrorist groups like Hamas.
America is obligated to provide military aid under the Camp David accords, but our obligations depend on Egyptian compliance.
Second, Egypt must offer full security cooperation with America’s anti-terrorist efforts.
Let’s not forget that Egypt is a net exporter of jihadist terrorists, with Egyptian terrorists present at Benghazi, Algeria, and of course 9/11.
Al Qaeda’s current leader got his start in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. It’s an American national security imperative that Egypt crack down on jihadists and that it fully cooperate with American military and intelligence officials.
Third, Egypt has to respect the basic human rights of its citizens, including their right to religious liberty. America cannot subsidize the persecution of Egypt’s Christians.
These conditions do not necessarily apply to purely humanitarian aid, the aid necessary to ease the near-starvation conditions under which too many Egyptians live. But even that aid can’t be provided if the Egyptian government fails to protect NGOs that dispense needed aid or can’t provide assurances that humanitarian aid will reach its intended recipients.
Moreover, these conditions do not represent a high bar for a civilized government to clear. In fact, American taxpayers should demand similar conditions from all recipients of American aid in the region. Billions of dollars of taxpayer money has funded extremists from Palestine to Pakistan.
Finally, let’s not forget that America isn’t the only potential source of aid for Egypt. It’s time for oil-rich Gulf States that have much to lose from Islamic extremism to step up. In fact, some of them already have -- Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged almost $9 billion in aid.
This action buys us time – the time we need to determine whether the new Egyptian government is an American ally.
Bottom line: American aid is only for American allies, proven American allies.
Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law. He also serves as a member of President Trump’s legal team. Follow him on Twitter @JaySekulow.