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Egyptian Cabinet Minister Accuse the US of Funding Nonprofit Groups to Create Chaos in the Country

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Egypt Cabinet minister says US funded nonprofits to create chaos

Article posted on FoxNews.com 14 February 2012

Stoking tensions with Washington, an Egyptian  Cabinet minister has accused the United  States of directly funding nonprofit groups to create chaos in the country  following last year’s ouster of longtime leader and U.S. ally Hosni  Mubarak, according to comments published in state-owned newspapers on  Tuesday.

International Cooperation Minister Faiza Aboul Naga  made the remarks in a testimony she gave in October to judges investigating  allegations the groups used foreign funds to foment unrest.

Aboul Naga, a leftover from the Mubarak regime who  has served in three interim governments formed since his ouster, has been  leading the crackdown on the foreign groups. Authorities last week referred a  total of 43 employees of nonprofit groups, including at least 16 Americans, to  trial before a criminal court.

The Americans include Sam LaHood, son of U.S.  Transportation Secretary ray  LaHood. All 43 are banned from travel. No date has been set for their  trial.

The crisis has soured relations between Egypt and the  United States, which has threatened to cut off aid to Egypt — a total of $1.5  billion a year in military and economic assistance — if the issue was not  resolved. The release of Aboul Naga’s testimony four months after she gave it  suggests that Egypt may not be willing, at least for now, to ease tensions with  the U.S.

Aboul Naga said international and regional powers  did not want Egypt to prosper following Mubarak’s ouster, so they resorted to  the creation of chaos.

“But the United States and Israel  could not directly create and sustain a state of chaos, so they used direct  funding, especially American, as the means to reach those goals,” she was quoted  as saying.

She also claimed that some of the money came from  the U.S. economic assistance to Egypt — which currently runs at $250 million a  year.

Aboul Naga claimed Washington directly and illegally  funded the nonprofit groups in what amounted to an interference in Egypt’s  internal affairs, a challenge to its sovereignty and harms national  security.

“Evidence shows the existence of a clear and  determined wish to abort any chance for Egypt to rise as a modern and democratic  state with a strong economy since that will pose the biggest threat to American  and Israeli interests, not only in Egypt, but in the whole region,” she was  quoted as saying.

The allegations facing the nonprofit groups are tied  to the turmoil roiling Egypt for the past year.

The generals who took over from Mubarak when a  popular uprising forced him to step down a year ago have routinely accused the  pro-democracy groups behind their predecessor’s overthrow of following a  “foreign agenda” and of seeking to plunge Egypt into chaos or even topple the  state itself.

The Egyptian military has been the recipient of $1.3  billion in annual aid. America’s top soldier, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of  Chief of Staff Gen. Martin  Dempsey, held talks with the ruling generals last weekend in Cairo, but  appeared to have made little or no progress on resolving the issue.

“We discussed that (situation) very professionally,”  Dempsey was quoted by the Pentagon’s American Forces Press Service during his  flight back from Cairo. “I expressed the fact that it caused us concern, not  only about the particular NGOs and individuals currently unable to leave the  country, but rather more broadly.”

“But we’ve got some work to do” on resolving tensions over the issue  of the nonprofit groups, Dempsey added, “and so do they.”

Under the aid program, Egypt’s military has been  able to modernize and replace its antiquated Soviet-era arsenal with modern  weapons, including fighter-jets, tanks and armored personnel carriers. Dempsey,  underlining the close ties between the Egyptian and American militaries, said  200 to 300 Egyptian officers are in the United States at any given time  attending military schools.

The close ties raise questions about why the  generals, led by Mubarak’s defense minister for 20 years, Field Marshal Hussein  Tantawi, want to risk such a lucrative and beneficial relationship over the  issue of the nonprofit groups.

However, they have near absolute powers in Egypt and  Aboul Naga could have only led the crackdown on the nonprofit groups with their  endorsement.

This has prompted many in Egypt to speculate that  the military may be willing to risk losing the U.S. aid to weaken the  pro-democracy groups harshly critical of the military’s handling of the  post-Mubarak transition and its poor human rights record.

By discrediting the groups, the generals also hope  to build an image of themselves as the nation’s only true patriots, cashing in  on the deeply rooted suspicion of the West felt by many Egyptians.

But the tension in U.S.-Egyptian relations was  belied by photographs published in Cairo’s newspapers Sunday, the day after  Dempsey met Tantawi. One showed the two sharing a hearty laugh, while another  had Egyptian Chief of Staff Sami Anan giving Demspey a warm welcome at the  Defense Ministry.

 

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