Share This Page

Kerry pledges $250M in aid to Egypt

| Sunday, March 3, 2013, 8:36 p.m.

CAIRO — Secretary of State John Kerry promised on Sunday to give Egypt $190 million to help the government pay its bills but said more money would require that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy move quickly to resolve the country's differences with the International Monetary Fund, reform its security services and take steps to provide equal rights for women and religious minorities.

Kerry announced that the United States would give $60 million for “direct support of key engines of democratic change.” Those groups would include liberal and secular organizations that have opposed Morsy's government and what they call the monopolization of power by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist society through which Morsy rose to prominence.

Kerry's statement, made at the end of “very candid and constructive” talks with Morsy, was the closest the United States has come to criticizing the Egyptian president, who took office last summer as the country's first democratically elected leader. Sunday's announcement also exposed the limits of U.S. influence on a country that was once considered a major ally.

“The United States can and wants to do more,” Kerry said. “When Egypt takes the difficult steps to strengthen its economy and build political unity and justice, we will work with our Congress at home on additional support. These steps will also unlock much-needed private-sector investment and broader financial assistance.”

The statement satisfied neither the opposition, which said Kerry should have pressed Morsy harder, nor Morsy's supporters, who said the United States should respect his election and allow him time to govern. There was no comment from the Egyptian government.

Outside analysts said the dissatisfaction on both sides was a sign of how the United States' approach to change in Egypt has earned it widespread distrust.

Sunday's announcement “is something you would have expected two years ago, not two years in” to the 2011 uprising that led to the fall of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, said Jon Alterman, the Middle East program director for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The U.S. ability to influence the economic and political trajectory in Egypt is lower than anyone had anticipated,” Alterman said.

During their meeting, which lasted more than two hours, Kerry and Morsy discussed Syria and Iran, as well as the economic, political and human rights situation in Egypt, Kerry said in his statement. But there was no mention of whether U.S. officials had raised the ongoing case against American and Egyptian workers for nongovernmental political and aid organizations who are on trial for operating illegally here.

Kerry also met with the ministers of defense and foreign affairs and six of 11 opposition leaders. The rest refused to meet with Kerry, highlighting the division within the opposition movement just weeks ahead of parliamentary elections that some in the opposition have pledged to boycott.

Egypt's security problems lingered throughout Kerry's visit. Police and anti-government demonstrators clashed again in Mansoura, about 80 miles north of Cairo, where violence in the past week has claimed at least one life.

Kerry's motorcade had to change its route to the airport when security authorities were unable to keep a demonstration of young people from blocking part of the roadway.

Egypt has been in turmoil since last fall, when Morsy declared that his decrees were not reviewable by the country's Supreme Court. He quickly rushed through a constitution over the objections of opponents, who said they were largely excluded from its drafting and accused Morsy of assuming dictatorial powers. Morsy eventually abandoned his claim to be above court review, but demonstrators have continued to demand that he resign and agree to a coalition government.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.