Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

Print Print Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close


Conspiracy Theories in Egypt

by Elliott Abrams
February 14, 2012

Egypt's Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Abou El Naga speaks during the "India-Africa Forum Summit 2008" in New Delhi April 9, 2008. (B Mathur/Couresty Reuters) Egypt's Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Abou El Naga speaks during the "India-Africa Forum Summit 2008" in New Delhi April 9, 2008. (B Mathur/Couresty Reuters)



One of the greatest dangers to democracy in Egypt is the prevalence of conspiracy theories warning that secret plots are under way against the country. The purpose is to persuade citizens that what they see before them—repression by the army, for example—is not real, while behind the scenes invisible evil plots are under way.

The best recent example of this phenomenon comes from the author of NGO crisis, in which the government of Egypt has raided and shut down several NGOs promoting democracy and human rights there and has criminal investigations of several Americans (some of whom are hiding out in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo) under way. Fayza Aboul Naga, Minister of “International Cooperation” (she wins the prize for “most misleading title” for that one) recently said this–and it helps explain the NGO crisis:

the January 25 revolution came as a surprise to the United States, and it slipped from its control when it transformed into a people’s revolution. That was when the United States decided to use all its resources and instruments to contain the situation and push it in a direction that promotes American and also Israeli interests

She made that statement in October, and it exposes perfectly the mind set that views the International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, and Freedom House as dangerous. The Americans under the nefarious Obama, she either believes or wishes Egyptians to believe, are behind Egypt’s troubles, and any effort to promote democracy is actually a ploy secretly designed to hijack the revolution so as to promote Israel’s interests. And this comes not from some crackpot or fringe group but the minister in charge of dealing with the United States about our aid program.

In fact, she is the author as well of a lengthy effort, going back at least five years now, to end control of our aid program by Congress and hand it instead to the Egyptian government by putting it all into an “endowment.” As the Congressional Research Service described things, “some analysts believe that the proposed endowment…would serve as a substitute for for the annual appropriations process and shield Egypt from potential conditions mandated by Congress.” Indeed. Once the United States put a large sum–$200 to $500 million was proposed—into the “endowment,” the ability of Congress to demand oversight and parcel out appropriations would be eliminated. Remarkably, Ms. Aboul Naga was pushing this as a member of the Mubarak regime that she now reviles in her enthusiasm for the “people’s revolution.”

Congress is now considering suspending the economic aid program in whole or in part thanks to the NGO crisis. How can there be much confidence in the way our assistance will be spent when Egypt’s leading aid official views us not as a partner, not as donor, but as a conspirator against Egypt?

Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by Dan Friedman

    Another American tourist in patchwork pants surprised he had his pocket picked in the Arab bazaar.

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    The very idea that Obama is doing anything at all is laughable .

  • Posted by Alex

    US makes one mistake after another. Starting back with Vietnam war (over 58,209 Americans killed, 153,303 wounded, millions of Vietnamese killed and wounded, millons of taxpayers money spent) – the result – Vietnam is a communist country. Missing “minor actions” in Latin America and Africa, take Iraq as late example – over 31,965 American solders killed, 36,935 wounded, million Iraques killed and wounded, infrastucture destroyed, trillion of dollars of taxpayers money spent (or wasted), etc. – the result – Sadam had neither ties with any terror group nor WMD and US installed pro-Iranian shiite government. Now this government is saying we don’t want Americans on our soil… No oil for the US too. . Present latest example – Egypt. Pres. Mubarek was removed not without US involvement and Muslim Brotherhood took over. Thank you, USA, laugh radicals. Now Muslim Brotherhood blackmails US and demands more financial help. These are just some examples of failed US foreign policy overseas. In order to survive as great nation we need new thinkin and new approach in foreign policy.

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required