President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (L) delivers remarks alongside U.S. President Barack Obama following their meeting at the White House in Washington on September 1, 2010. Tomorrow begins the first direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in two years. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Billions of dollars in U.S. aid to Egypt since Hosni Mubarak became president in 1981 benefited U.S. defense contractors more than Egyptians, critics said.
Of the more than $60 billion in aid sent to Egypt since Mubarak became president, more than half of the money was spent supplying weapons that the U.S. Congress required be spent on American military hardware, The Boston Globe reported Thursday.
Congressional Research Service data indicate about $34 billion of the aid to Egypt was in grants that required Egypt to spend on American-made products, such as helicopter engines built by GE Aviation and transmitters built by Raytheon.
"Egypt has a real need for foreign aid, but not the kind of foreign aid they are getting," Geoffrey Wawro, history professor and director of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas in Denton, told the Globe. "They need more butter than guns."
Protests against the Mubarak government prompted critics to renew questioning about the disparity between military and civilian aid, the Globe said.
U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, called on Congress to focus more on aid to ordinary Egyptians and require greater accountability for military aid from whomever succeeds Mubarak, who announced he won't seek re-election in the fall, but whom opposition groups want out now.
"Congress and the Obama administration need to consider providing civilian assistance that would generate jobs and improve social conditions in Egypt, as well as guarantee that American military assistance is accomplishing its goals," he wrote in an commentary Tuesday in The New York Times.
Edward Djerejian, a former State Department official focused on the Middle East, said the military relationship the United States has Egypt should continue but the new government must abide by democratic process and respect international obligations.