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Critics question billions in aid routed back to US contractors: TURMOIL IN EGYPT

• Farah Stockman, Boston.com
United States taxpayers have funneled more than $60 billion of aid into Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak came to power in 1981, but more than half of the money has been spent supplying weapons to the country’s military, an arrangement that critics say has benefited American military contractors more than ordinary Egyptians.

About $34 billion of the aid to Egypt has come in the form of grants that Congress requires Egypt to spend on American military hardware, according to statistics from the Congressional Research Service. Those contracts include helicopter engines built by GE Aviation in Lynn and transmitters for Egypt’s Navy built by Raytheon in Tewksbury.

“Egypt has a real need for foreign aid, but not the kind of foreign aid they are getting,’’ said Geoffrey Wawro, history professor and director of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas. “They need more butter than guns. They need development aid, but development aid does not serve as a stimulus plan for American factories.’’

Military aid to Egypt became a cornerstone of US foreign policy in 1979, when Egypt signed a landmark peace deal with Israel that bought some measure of stability in the tumultuous region.

But in recent years the large amount of aid earmarked for the military, and the relatively low sums supporting civilian aid, have attracted scathing criticism from Egyptians, some of whom argue that US aid has gone to entrench a military dictator at the expense of the fledgling democracy activists.

 

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