The International Republican Institute announced that its Egypt director, Sam LaHood, was stopped right before boarding his flight to Dubai on Saturday. Six Americans with the organization and its sister partner, the National Democratic Institute, have been prevented from leaving as a result of the criminal investigation against the Egyptian military government currently in charge of the country. Only a day before LaHood’s detainment, President Obama told Egypt’s leader, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi that the regular aid given to their military would be withheld if the North African country didn’t take the Congressional legislated steps towards democracy.
Raids on nongovernmental organizations and defiance of basic human rights were the catalyst behind the US threats. State Department officials confirm that this is the first time in 30 years that the aid, $1.3 billion as designated by a 1979 peace treaty with Israel, was in jeopardy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in charge of making sure Egypt follows through with their democratic transition of having “policies to protect freedom of expression, association and religion, and due process of law.” When asked about the recently imposed travel restrictions, Amr Roshdy the spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, said they were “a purely judicial process,” imposed by the attorney general. When the New York Times informed him about the financial aid restrictions based on their non-cooperation he said, “Really?”
Considering the unrest following the revolution that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak, is imposing democracy on Egypt doable right now? Is Obama being fair? Or are we just saddling a struggling country with some good old fashioned paternalism?