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Cairo Cold Front
Egypt’s National Security Adviser Prosecuted US NGOs

Egypt’s new National Security Adviser has a history of open hostility to the United States. In 2011 she was responsible for efforts to expel American democracy-building NGOs from the country, leading to a significant diplomatic debacle in which more than a dozen Americans, including the son of a U.S. cabinet secretary, essentially had to flee the country to avoid prosecution and potential imprisonment. As the New York Times reports:

The new adviser, Fayza Abul Naga, provoked one of the biggest crises in Cairo’s 35-year-old alliance with Washington. The case forced the son of an American cabinet secretary to hide in the United States Embassy for weeks for fear of arrest. It elicited personal threats and appeals by President Obama to Egypt’s top generals. And it culminated in the reported payment of as much as $4.6 million in forfeited bail and the secretive flight of a half dozen United States citizens on a charter jet to Cyprus.

Analysts said Ms. Abul Naga’s return underscored the Sisi government’s persistent disregard for its alliance with Washington, as well as a darkly suspicious view of civil organizations. […]

“[T]his is just confirmation of what we already know about the government: Its approach to civil society is unbridled hostility, and there is a real possibility that the sector is going to be squelched and shut down completely in the coming months.”

The NGOs that the Egyptian government targeted were three of America’s most prominent organizations devoted to promoting democracy abroad. They receive significant funding from the U.S. government and bipartisan support. The prosecution was therefore a powerful demonstration of American impotence in Egypt. Sisi’s decision to promote el-Naga is much the same, and indicates that he’s seeking the advice of those looking to undermine the United States, rather than build ties.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Given the dreadful results of “promoting democracy abroad” from Afghanistan to Libya and elsewhere, perhaps the money would be better spend elsewhere.

    • GS

      Precisely. Every civilization tends to revert to its norm, and that’s why the so-called “Arab spring” was doomed to fizzle from its first moment. May its promoters get an arab spring in their mattresses.

  • Kevin

    Egypt is where a Reset would do some good. US policy towards Egypt for the past few years has been nothing short of a fiasco. Maybe Barack and John (Kerry) could ask their pal Bibi to put in a good word for us with Sisi – the Isrealis are certainly a lot more respected there than we are. Oh wait – these geniuses have destroyed our half-century alliance with Isreal. Maybe our longstanding friends the Saudis could help – the generals in Egypt wil certainly give serious attention to what their benefactors in Riyadh say. Oh wait that won’t work either because we’ve mangaed to alienate the Saudis too. What friends do we have left in the Middle East? Pretty much only the mullahs in Teheran, but that’s onky in Obama’s imagination. This debacle in Egyot just shows we’ve managed to alienate all of our longstanding allies but haven’t picked up any new ones. This has to be the most catastrophic ineptitude ever seen in foreign policy.

    • FriendlyGoat

      You could probably get the new Republican majorities to de-fund the military mission in Iraq come January.

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