Elsewhere online
March 20, 2012

U.S. May Renew Aid to Egypt Despite Conflict Over Nonprofits

The White House is expected to decide this week to release $1.5-billion in annual support to Egypt, aid that had been threatened by Cairo’s prosecution of pro-democracy workers, according to Bloomberg.

Forty-three American and Egyptian employees of four nonprofit groups have been charged with illegally accepting foreign financial support and operating without government sanction. The Obama administration has said in recent weeks that the case could imperil longstanding U.S. aid to Egypt.

The administration is briefing members of Congress on the aid plan and could announce a decision this week, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

An official familiar with White House deliberations on the matter told Bloomberg the administration is disappointed with Cairo's crackdown on democracy groups but wants to maintain U.S. influence to help the country make the transition from the Hosni Mubarak regime, which was ousted last year.

The anticipated payment prompted criticism from human-rights groups and some lawmakers. "Now is not the time for giving Egypt's current rulers, who are mostly holdovers from the Mubarak-era dictatorship, the U.S. government's seal of approval," said Neil Hicks of advocacy group Human Rights First.