This month on PITAPOLICY, we zeroed in on the impact of the Arab Spring on MENA country economies and the strategic focus of implementing development organizations in North Africa, including Egypt. We conclude this month with a contribution from PITAPOLICY Founder Mehrunisa Qayyum, who argues that cutting off aid to the Arab world actually hurts jobs and business here in the U.S. In a later post, Qayyum will review the impact on recipient countries’ local environmental and business performance.
Cutting Off Aid to Arab World Hurts U.S. Business
By: Mehrunisa Qayyum
Congressmen called for cutting aid to Libya and Egypt. If the cry to cut aid had not erupted due to such tragic circumstances, this would be laughable since just last year, Congressman Dreier called for an Free Trade Agreement with Egypt to increase good will. As usual, I got nervous about Congressional threats to cut off aid as a rebuke for negativity in the Arab world. It looked like punishment would be meted out against the whole classroom, and not just against the misbehaved (okay, “degenerate”) kids.
At first glance, it would seem pretty reasonable for a government (like ours) to take a step back from aid pledges to other governments (like Egypt’s or Libya’s) when an international incident involves American deaths. The U.S. prides itself on taking action. Remember when we launched strikes against Sudan and Afghanistan in response to the 1998 Tanzania and Kenyan US embassy bombings? Aside from the 12 American deaths, over 5,000 were injured. Our response involved a lot of firepower. But Al Qaeda got the message — I think.
At second glance, we could simply consider the taxpayer’s perspective. We should not be “spending money that we don’t have” in other countries, as pundit Mike Cafferty asserts.
In February we heard this before when American NGOs faced trouble in Egypt. Political rhetoric called for halting aid to punish Egypt for imprisoning Americans.
However, discontinuing aid might not make pragmatic sense when considering all of our American interests: military, commercial, and agricultural.