As ThinkProgress reported earlier today, a number of high-profile right-wing figures have risen to the defense of the embattled Hosni Mubarak government in Egypt. Yet as thousands of Egyptians continue to fight for their freedom, the eyes of the international community are falling squarely on the Obama administration.
Today, the Egypt Working Group — “A bipartisan group of former U.S. officials and foreign policy scholars” that includes CAP’s Brian Katulis — released a statement calling on President Obama to suspend military and economic aid to Egypt until the government endorses free and fair elections and ends its crackdown on civil liberties and civil rights:
Only free and fair elections provide the prospect for a peaceful transfer of power to a government recognized as legitimate by the Egyptian people. We urge the Obama administration to pursue these fundamental objectives in the coming days and press the Egyptian government to:
- call for free and fair elections for president and for parliament to be held as soon as possible;
- amend the Egyptian Constitution to allow opposition candidates to register to run for the presidency;
- immediately lift the state of emergency, release political prisoners, and allow for freedom of media and assembly;
- allow domestic election monitors to operate throughout the country, without fear of arrest or violence;
- immediately invite international monitors to enter the country and monitor the process leading to elections, reporting on the government’s compliance with these measures to the international community; and
- publicly declare that Hosni Mubarak will agree not to run for re-election.
We further recommend that the Obama administration suspend all economic and military assistance to Egypt until the government accepts and implements these measures.
The position of the Obama administration has been unclear. While administration officials have condemned abuses of civil liberties, they’ve also fallen short of endorsing Mubarak’s ouster or ending support for the regime, with Vice President Joe Biden even going as far as to say that Mubarak isn’t a dictator.
The United States gives nearly $2 billion in aid to the Egyptian regime every year, and offers diplomatic and military cooperation that helps bolster Mubarak. As protesters continue to be beaten, tortured, and killed by internal security forces, it’s important to know that these abuses are being subsidized by U.S. taxpayer dollars. Threatening to reduce or eliminate this monetary assistance to the Egyptian regime would be a powerful tool that the United States could use to help advance democracy and promote freedom in the country.