If Egypt gets away with banning our democracy NGOs and threatening to jail their staff, if officials who lead such actions are later given warm official receptions in Washington, those NGOs may as well close up show: every undemocratic regime will start treating them the same way. We need to stand up for them strongly–and now.
The campaign against the International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, along with a half-dozen Egyptian and European groups, is being led by Minister of International Cooperation Faiza Aboul Naga, a civilian holdover from the Mubarak regime. Ms. Aboul Naga, an ambitious demagogue, is pursuing a well-worn path in Egyptian politics — whipping up nationalist sentiment against the United States as a way of attacking liberal opponents at home. The regime’s calculation has always been that it can get away with such outrages because U.S. policymakers will conclude they can’t afford a rupture in relations with Egypt. But if such a break is to be avoided, the generals must be disabused of the notion that U.S. military aid is inviolate.
“They should know that this action on their part jeopardizes a normal relationship between us,” Levin said in a brief interview on his way out of the Democratic caucus lunch. “They know that, and that includes the impact it could have on aid.”McCain, who happens to be the chairman of the board of IRI, said in his own after-lunch interview that U.S. military aid to Egypt is “certainly a topic that [the Egyptians] have put on the table.”“It’s hard to believe. IRI and NDI worked throughout Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union and we helped them with democracy. They’re like mechanics. They come in and tell you how to organize voters, how party registration works, and that kind of stuff. They’re not advocates of anybody,” McCain said.