News / Africa

Egyptian Charges Against US Groups Deepen Rift with Washington

Egypt's decision to bring criminal charges against 19 Americans and other activists is deepening a rift between Washington and Cairo at a time of growing instability in the Middle East. The charges are tied to an investigation into illegal foreign funding of non-governmental organizations.

The heady, early days of Egypt's Arab Spring blossomed in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

It's where thousands of Egyptians gathered daily - the square's wide expanse serving as a grand stage for the nation's democratic aspirations.

But as a new spring approaches, a new drama unfolds, just blocks away at the U.S. Embassy.

There several Americans are holed up, charged with undermining Egypt's democratic transition.

Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri defends the case against them, despite the risk of losing U.S. aid because of it. "Egypt will abide by the law and implement it. Egypt has known civilization for thousands of years, so it can never go back because there is or there is not aid," Mr. al-Ganzouri said.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Aaron Snipe says the Obama administration is deeply disappointed.

“The government of Egypt's decision to charge these Americans will have consequences. We think that we must remain engaged because we value this relationship with the Egyptian people and the Egyptian government. We've got differences, for sure, and there are some real challenges that we have got to overcome,” Snipe said.

Most of the Americans were in Cairo supporting an electoral process to choose new lawmakers following the uprising against Mr. Mubarak. U.S. officials say they were supporting elections, not specific candidates or parties.

But Egyptian Judge Sameh Abu Zaid says that's not true. "The activities were mainly political and concerned the training of political parties and rallying voters' support for one candidate or the other," Zaid said.

Prime Minister al-Ganzouri says the foreign groups interfered in Egyptian affairs. "What is happening has, to a great extent, a methodology, and there are those who are directing it, and I don't know why it is thus being directed. Is it for the purpose of toppling military rule? If so, what happens after that?," he said.

Brookings Institution visiting fellow Khaled elGindy says holdovers from the ousted Mubarark government are using the charges to distract from popular discontent in Cairo. “They have tried to pin the blame on outside influences, foreign agendas, and, basically, ginning up (creating) these conspiracy theories.  And so, over time, eventually they have had to put names and places on these conspiracy theories, and the convenient scapegoats are these NGOs, who, frankly, have been working in Egypt even before last year's uprising,” elGindy said.

U.S. officials say the case has broad implications for relations between Washington and Cairo - not only military assistance, but support for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as well as efforts to end the violence in Syria.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs