Just after the United States decided to keep sending $1.3 billion in annual aid to the Egyptian military, a new poll shows that most Egyptians don't want their country to receive American financial assistance. Pollsters say Egyptians suspect that taking money from foreigners will end up impinging on their nation's sovereignty.
More than eight of 10 Egyptians oppose receiving aid from the United States, according to a Gallup poll that finds opposition has grown over the last year. Egyptians are even more strongly opposed to the U.S. sending aid to Egyptian civil society groups, the February poll found.
Opposition to outside aid has grown stronger over time, the poll of 1,000 respondents showed. Egyptian attitudes about assistance from the U.S. soured at the same time the country began accusing Americans working for non-governmental organizations of trying to stir up unrest, Gallup said.
Earlier this year, Egypt sought to prosecute 16 Americans employed by U.S.-funded groups, alleging they were working with Egyptian groups not registered with the government. Authorities claimed the defendants were fomenting unrest and attempting to advance U.S. and Israeli interests.
Most of the U.S. defendants were allowed to leave the country, though they still technically face charges. A lone American has chosen to stay and face charges alongside other defendants.
"The murky circumstances and arrangements that resulted in the prosecution, travel limitations and then sudden departure of U.S. citizens facing trial in Egypt has only inflamed Egyptians' sense of distrust and suspicion regarding such organizations and what U.S. funds mean for Egyptian sovereignty," Gallup analysts Mohamed Younis and Ahmed Younis wrote on the Gallup blog.
The case upset many members of the U.S. Congress, leading to calls to stop sending money to the Egyptian military. But the U.S. government recently decided to continue sending aid despite the ongoing case and restrictions on political rights that ordinarily would bar Egypt from getting the funding.
Besides their wariness of the U.S., Gallup found Egyptians had grown less supportive of aid from international groups or other Arab nations. Only 36% of Egyptians polled were in favor of aid from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund and 57% favored Arab government aid.
To find funding to help Egypt overcome its challenges, its leaders will need to show outside aid "does not come at the cost of Egypt's sovereignty," Mohamed Younis and Ahmed Younis wrote.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: Egyptian army soldiers guard the entrance of Egypt's stock exchange in Cairo in March 2011. Credit: Nasser Nasser / Associated Press