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Continued US Aid to Egypt 'No Surprise' to Analyst - 2004-07-17

The head of the Political Science Department at Cairo University says the U.S.-Egyptian alliance is too beneficial to both countries to be easily derailed. He was commenting on the defeat this week in the U.S. Congress of a proposed amendment to transfer proposed military aid for Egypt to economic aid.

Supporters of the amendment to nearly halve military assistance to Egypt criticized the country for lack of support in the war on terror and its inability to stamp out anti-Semitism in its media.

The head of the Political Science Department at Cairo University, Hassan Nafae, says the Bush administration recognizes that Egypt is a key ally, and one that has an important role to play in Israel's planned unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza strip.

"Lately, Egypt has been trying to play a role, or to make the unilateral plan to withdraw from Gaza a success," he said. "So, I don't think there is a consensus that the Egyptian role is negative, or against the U.S. and Israel in the Middle East. That's why this attempt has failed, and that's why, I think, this same kind of attempts will fail in the future."

Egypt has offered to send hundreds of experts into the area to train the future Palestinian security services.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a letter to Congress calling Egypt a critical partner, and strongly urging it not to cut military aid. Mr. Powell warned that U.S. contractors could lose up to $2.2 billion worth of military contracts in Egypt, if the amendment passed.

Mr. Nafae says the aid may benefit the United States more than Egypt itself.

"The American aid to Egypt has served more the American objectives and the American purposes than it really served the Egyptian purposes and the Egyptian objectives," Mr. Nafae said. "The structure of the aid, the economic and military aid, makes Egypt much more dependent on the United States and the strategic relationship a lot more stronger."

Egypt is scheduled to receive $1.3 billion in military aid and $535 million in economic aid.