Egypt's Path to Rights Needs a Push

(Washington Post) Sen. Mitch McConnell - Egyptian President Mubarak's visit to the U.S. next week affords the administration an opportunity to correct the course for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Egypt. According to the State Department's 2003 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Egypt remained a repressive country where citizens "did not have the meaningful ability to change their government" and where the government "significantly restricted freedom of assembly and association." Egypt's cooperation with the U.S. has come at a high price to the American taxpayer. Since 1948 Egypt has received more than $59 billion in U.S. foreign assistance. The first step must include a recalibration of aid that includes a provision of assistance to all levels of government in Egypt and civil society. The Egyptian elite should make room at the table for reformers, and it should share foreign assistance dollars more equitably with indigenous and international nongovernmental organizations. Should Egypt fall short on its commitments, the U.S. must retain control of foreign aid dollars so that funds can be shifted to other development sectors - or returned to the U.S. Treasury. Such a "use it or lose it" approach might provide necessary motivation for the Egypt government to accelerate much-needed political and economic reforms. The writer, a Republican senator from Kentucky, is majority whip and chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations.

2004-04-07 00:00:00

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