US and Egypt Relations in Crisis?

The World

Fayza Abul Naga (Photo: Egyptian government)

"American Funding Aims to Spread Anarchy in Egypt." That was the headline in one of Egypt's state-owned papers, al-Ahram, Tuesday. Similar headlines dominated the other papers. The papers cited comments by Egyptian cabinet minister, Fayza Abul Naga, stating that the US was trying to "abort any chance for Egypt to emerge as a modern democratic state." She suggested America was acting in Israel's interest. Abul Naga is overseeing the investigation of American funding of civil society groups in Egypt. Nineteen Americans have been barred from leaving the country, until the investigation is complete. Some of the suspects have taken shelter in the US embassy. Congress is threatening to cut US aid to Egypt in retaliation. But according to David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times, Abul Naga is acting in defiance of Egypt's ruling military council. Kirkpatrick tells Anchor Marco Werman that she ignored warnings from Field Marshal Tantawi, head of the military council, to tone it down, "coming out with both barrels." Her comments are proving extremely popular with the public, perhaps laying the foundation for her political career. Kirkpatrick says her defiance calls into question "just how much control the ruling generals have over their own government at the moment." Despite all the political shenanigans, Kirkpatrick says the crisis in relations between Cairo and Washington is "very serious," and could lead to "a real rupture in that 30-year old alliance which has been a lynchpin of Mid-East peace."