The whole issue of foreign aid started way back before the world wars, when charitable organizations would provide assistance to needy people in foreign countries (Lancaster 3). However, foreign aid from the US government did not start, not until the world war one. In fact, it was against the law for the government to use citizens’ money to offer aids to foreign countries. After the world war one, the US started offering aid to some fallen nations; however, these were in terms of loans that ended up being forgiven in the end. During the Second World War, the US offered military and weaponry aid to some nations and after the war the law started being changed to incorporate the whole issue of foreign aid (Altermin 11).
Part of the government finances was set aside to help needy nations in growing and also to help some of the countries that had fallen in war, to rise. However, the aids were still considered as loans for a period of time until 1961 (Lancaster 15), when the foreign aids act was passed. This act separated military aid from non-military aid and it was concerned with the non-military aid (Basically economic aid). The act also led to the creation of an agency to handle the duties concerning aids, and delegated all the duties concerning foreign aid to the agency- US Agency for International Development (USAID). Established by President Kennedy, the USAID was the first foreign agency to be established and mandated with the duties of ensuring long-term economic and social development.
The US foreign policy goes a long way to reach out to the people of the Middle East. In the Middle East, the United States of America has a number of allies and non-allies. It funds some of the allies and even offers technological support on the individual nations (Burns 3). The key allies are Egypt and Israel, where as some nations like Iraq and Afghanistan chose to stay aloof of the whole issue of the United States foreign policy. The countries that are allies to the United States foreign policy have received a lot of help from the US. The US has helped the most of its allies in achieving their developmental and financial goals. In return, the US creates a good relation with the countries and their citizens. An example of such aids was in the year 2010 when Egypt and Israel received financial aid of about $2 billion each for development. Also, the USA gets to position its troops in the various parts of the ally nations.
The relationship between the US and Egypt started way back in the 1950s, when the US helped in stopping an invasion into Egypt, by the Britons, Israelis and French. The three nations collaborated to invade and seize the Suez Canal. All indicators were pointing to the loss of Egypt until the US stepped in and forced the nations out. This led to a beginning of a new era- the relationship between the US and Egypt. The then president (Gamal Abdel Nasser), whose position as presidency had been protected by the US, had no option but to collaborate with the United States (Burns 7). The leadership of Nasser continued for several years and the Suez Canal remained closed because of the poor relationship between Israel and Egypt. The Soviet Union remained to be the close ally to Egypt; however, the existing relationship between the US and Egypt remained unchanged. In 1973, President Anwar Sadat took office and hid tenure saw a huge revolution in Egypt.
The foreign aid improved as Sadat sought to seek help from the USA, to intervene in the escalating war between Israel and Egypt. Sadat implemented less fiery ways of ruling, which oppose the fierce ruling by the previous president, Nasser. Sadat had realized that calming the conflict between Egypt and Israel would come with a lot of advantages including the development of Egypt as a nation. Therefore, he engaged the US and strengthened its relations with the US, a move which later saw the solution of the Israel-Egypt conflict (in 1974) and the opening up of the Suez Canal (Lancaster 15). Ever since, the relationship between the US and Egypt has improved greatly, with the foundations in the Sadat and US President Jerry Carter’s leaderships. The US government has provided several forms of foreign aid to Egypt that have helped it grow.
Foreign aid from the US on Egypt has come with a lot of impacts. Generally, most of these impacts have been positive to the Egyptian government and nation as a whole. In fact, most of Egypt’s growth is attributed to this foreign aid and Egypt is one of the major beneficiaries of foreign aid. One of the impacts would be the advancement in military- after the resolution of the Egypt-Israeli conflict (between 1973- 2003), the US government supported Egypt with over $19billion of military aid. This boosted the military of the Egypt in terms of finance, weaponry and military technology. During the same time frame, Egypt also received about $30 billion worth of economic aid. This has helped in the boosting of Egypt’s industrial and development goals (Altermin13). Ever since the introduction of this foreign aid, the funds given to Egypt have helped it to grow both industrially, agriculturally and nationally (infrastructure). Foreign aid has also helped Egypt to build good relations with their neighbors. This is evident when the US aided in restoring peace between Egypt and Israel in 1974. Foreign aid has also helped Egypt in the political arena- as evident in the leadership of Gamal Nasser. The invasion by Britons, French and Israelis on the Suez Canal would have seized the presidential powers of Nasser. It took the US intervention to restore order in the Suez Canal and this kept Nasser from losing his powers. The aids received from the US government have also seen the advancement of technology in Egypt. The economic and military aids from USA have helped Egypt to industrialize and adopt modern and more sophisticated forms of technology.
Ever since the removal of Nasser from power, Egypt has been on the rise, until the year 2011. This is the years that saw protestors force the then president, Hosni Mubarak, resign from office. The protestor accused the leadership of using violence and dictatorship at the expense of citizen’s rights (Zahid 10). The leadership of Hosni Mubarak had been questioned by the US and he it was urged to withdraw the use of violence and other crude forms of leadership. Instead, the government termed the various foreign AID agencies as illegal and saw the conviction of various leaders of the various organizations. The US even threatened to withdraw their military and economic aids, but the Mubarak government did not respond. At the end, Hosni Mubarak resigned from office after a massive protest in 2011 and the country has since remained in a deep division between the Islamic and Christian brothers. Ever since, there has been no democratic government (Zahid 15). The elections of 2011 were nullified and those of 2012 saw Mohamed Morsi get power; however, this was not to be permanent as it was faced by a number of protests. On June 30th, 2013 large number of protestants gathered at the Presidential palace to protest against the Muslim leadership terming the 2012 election as null. This crowd that gathered at Tahrir square demonstrated against the then government and wanted Morsi to resign. A few days afterwards, a coup by the military saw Morsi ousted out of power and Egypt has been in the hands of the military since then. The tension between the Muslim and Christian brothers still remains; however, the country plans on having a new constitution and a new election to bring fourth new leaders into the government.
In summary, Egypt is known for being a nation with most of its land being desert land. However, the land has been reclaimed and irrigated and, overtime, the land has been used to produce very good results. This would have not been possible if it were not for the aids received from the US government. The aids have impacted positively on Egypt and this relationship (between the US and Egypt) needs to be upheld for a better Egypt.
- Alterman, Jon B. Egypt and American Foreign Assistance 1952-1956: Hopes Dashed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Internet resource.
- Burns, William J. Economic Aid and American Policy Toward Egypt, 1955-1981. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985. Print.
- Lancaster, Carol. Transforming Foreign Aid: United States Assistance in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: Inst. for Internat. Economics, 2000. Print.
- Zahid, Mohammed. The Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s Succession Crisis: The Politics of Liberalisation and Reform in the Middle East. London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2010. Print.