Op-Ed: AIPAC lobbies for US to continue aid to Egypt

Posted Aug 20, 2013 by Ken Hanly
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) the pro-Israel lobby group is pushing hard to ensure continued aid to the military-backed government in Egypt.
Barack Obama
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference 2008.
Obama for America
The US is under mounting pressure to cut off the $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt of which $1.3 billion is military aid as the Egyptian security forces continue a bloody crackdown on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Much of the equipment and supplies used in the crackdown comes from the US. AIPAC has already been credited with helping to kill an amendment to cut Egyptian aid in July.
Both political parties report that AIPAC lobbyists are working behind the scenes in private meetings in order to keep alive Cairo's funding. Washington has already taken token measures in delaying delivery of jets and also cancelling joint military exercises.
A congressional aide said of AIPAC lobbyists: "They made and continue to make their views known on this issue. But on an issue like aid to an Arab country, my experience with AIPAC has generally been that they will not be terribly vocal in public. To be sure, they feel strongly about keeping the aid flowing, but I wouldn't expect a massive call in and letter writing campaign."
Another aide made similar observations: "On sensitive issues like this, AIPAC will 'lobby' very quietly, by reaching out to select influential folks on the Hill. It's not in the Egyptian military's or Israel's interest to have AIPAC loudly supporting Egyptian FMF."
Publicly the Israeli government remains relatively mum about recent violence in Egypt, claiming that it does not want to take sides. No doubt Israel also thinks that openly siding with the Egyptian military might cause public relations problems for them, as Israel is quite unpopular among most Arab citizens. Privately officials have expressed considerable satisfaction in seeing Morsi removed.
Recently, an anonymous senior government official in an interview with the Jerusalem Post said that the Foreign Ministry was about to launch a diplomatic campaign aimed at convincing the US and Europe to soften criticism of the Egyptian military. After the recent military crackdown that has left almost one thousand dead, both the US and the EU have announced they will be reviewing relations with the military-backed government.
Since the ousting of Morsi, cooperation between the Israeli and Egyptian military has increased particularly in the Sinai where both forces are fighting militants. Israel is even reported to have made a drone strike in the Sinai.
Saudi Arabia has been a supporter of the military crackdown. Previously, the Saudi regime had been a strong ally of Mubarak. The Saudi's fear the spread of the Brotherhood ideology to the kingdom. King Abdullah called on Arabs to stand together against "attempts to destabilize Egypt". The Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said: " To those who have announced they are cutting their aid to Egypt, or threatening to do that, (we say that) Arab and Muslim nations are rich... and will not hesitate to help Egypt" Israel and the Saudi regime seem to share interests.