Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Kansas City Star
Secretary of State John Kerry, on his first foreign trip in his new job, sent an important message to Egypt during a Cairo stopover. He said the U.S. would approve $190 million to help Egypt finance its immediate governmental operating costs, but the country would have to settle its disputes with the International Monetary Fund -- which would be a source of longer-term financing.
Kerry also bluntly told Egypt to clean up its act in other respects: reform its security agencies and protect the rights of women and minorities.
That's a tall order, given the increasing chaos of the country, which is riven by conflict between Islamists and secular groups, and abetted by the dictatorial tendencies of President Mohammed Morsi. Future aid, Kerry said, would be conditioned on Egypt's progress toward a more humane, stable democracy.
Kerry said that if Egypt takes needed steps to boost its economy and "build political unity and justice," the administration would press Congress for more support.
Such an approach is overdue, especially after the Obama administration's hasty move earlier this year allowing Egypt to purchase F-16 fighters.
Shortly thereafter, Morsi responded to unrest and violence by declaring a state of emergency with a nighttime curfew in major cities.
The good news could be that Kerry's remarks hint at a possible re-evaluation of overall U.S. policy toward Egypt, something also long overdue.