News / Middle East

Does the US Have Leverage Over Egypt’s Military?

Two months after ousting an elected president, Egypt's military remains the nation's most popular institution.
Two months after ousting an elected president, Egypt's military remains the nation's most popular institution.
TEXT SIZE - +
— Two months after the military ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, U.S. officials are still trying to figure out just how much leverage they have to influence events in the largest Arab nation.
 
The assessment comes as Egypt’s interim leaders say they are pressing ahead to set up a transition to civilian rule and as Washington is reviewing the level of its aid package to Cairo.
 
The army deposed Morsi, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, on July 3, a year after he assumed the presidency in the nation’s first democratic election. The ouster came three days after millions of Egyptians took to the streets protesting the way he ran the country.
 
Robert Springborg, Middle East expert at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, says the Egyptian military is well regarded by the population.
 
“It’s far and away the most popular institution in the country,” Springborg said. “Public opinion polls have consistently revealed approval of the Egyptian military in excess of 80 percent and intermittently above 90 percent. No other institution comes close to it.”
 
Springborg says Egypt’s military is the eleventh largest in the world and the fourth largest customer of U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets. It also has more than 4,000 main battle tanks, mostly American made.
 
It is a huge military by developing world standards, but Springborg says its quality is not very good.
 
“It has crashed more F-16s than any other operator of them,” he explains. “The training of its pilots is inadequate. Much of the armor that is very expensive for it, including the M1-A1 tanks, has actually never been used – it’s in storage.
 
Paper Tiger
 
“The training of tank crews is very poor. The Egyptian military continues to depend on the United States for maintenance, logistics and training,” Springborg said. “So it’s in some sense a paper tiger. It’s large on paper but in reality, it doesn’t have a lot of punch.”
 
Each year, the United States provides $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt. But some U.S. lawmakers are now pressing for an end to that aid because of Morsi’s ouster. The Obama administration says only that it is reviewing its aid to Egypt.
 
A poster of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi lies amid debris of a cleared protest camp of his supporters in Cairo August 15, 2013.A poster of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi lies amid debris of a cleared protest camp of his supporters in Cairo August 15, 2013.
x
A poster of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi lies amid debris of a cleared protest camp of his supporters in Cairo August 15, 2013.
A poster of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi lies amid debris of a cleared protest camp of his supporters in Cairo August 15, 2013.
Jeffrey Martini, an expert on civil-military relations in Egypt with the RAND Corporation, says a number of Arab Gulf states have offered to make up for any shortfall that would come from the U.S. limiting the flow of aid.
 
“Those countries have already pledged $12 billion – so roughly about 10 times what we give in aid to Egypt,” Martini said. “Now there is a nuance here, which is what the United States provides, cannot entirely be compensated for – we are still the supplier of choice for the Egyptian military.
 
“And Saudi Arabia can send plenty of petro-dollars to Egypt,” he continued, “but it can’t supply them with the M1-A1 tanks, the Apache helicopters and the F-16s, nor the spare parts and the maintenance that they require.”
 
Preserving their power
 
Even so, many experts still say despite the strong ties between the U.S. and Egyptian militaries, Washington really has little leverage to influence events inside Egypt.
 
“Every state operates to advance what it sees as its strategic interest. We should not apologize for that, just as Egypt shouldn’t apologize for that,” Martini said. “At the next levels, leaders will make decisions that preserve their power. And the military sees defanging the Muslim Brotherhood as very much in its interest – and they are going to pursue that with or without American aid.”
 
Springborg of the Naval Postgraduate School says Washington also has another way to influence Cairo – through institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, or IMF.
 
“Egypt is ultimately going to have to get an IMF loan to be sanctified as credit worthy to access international credit markets and to become a source of foreign direct investment from beyond the Arab Gulf,” Springborg said. “And the United States really holds the trump card in that area. If the United States deems Egypt not to be worth risking IMF or other monies on, then Egypt has very serious problems indeed.”
 
But Springborg says U.S. leverage has to be used very carefully because “it would stimulate a backlash if it is done crudely.”

(To hear Andre de Nesnera's report, click the link below.)


(To see more of Andre de Nesnera's columns, click on the link below.)

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population 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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid