State-run newspapers splashed accusations of a US plan to spread “anarchy” in Egypt, escalating a dispute that Washington on Feb. 14 said must be resolved to ensure their continued military cooperation. Based on remarks by a government minister, the headlines marked another low in the crisis between Washington and Cairo triggered by the investigation into US-based non-governmental organisations that has resulted in criminal charges against Americans who have been banned from leaving the country. “America is behind the anarchy,” declared the front page of Al Gomhuria newspaper. “American funding aims to spread anarchy in Egypt,” read the front page of Al Ahram newspaper. The papers are two of Egypt’s most widely distributed dailies.
The headlines were based on comments made in October to the investigating judges by Minister of International Cooperation Faiza Abul Naga – but which only came to light on Feb. 13 when they were released to the state news agency MENA. In her remarks, Abul Naga linked what she said was a surge in US funding for civil society groups last year to an attempt to steer the course of the post-Hosni Mubarak transition in “a direction that realised American and Israeli interests.”
“All the indications show that there was a clear desire to abort any chance for Egypt to emerge as a modern democratic state with a strong economy,” she was quoted as saying, adding that such a prospect would be a threat to “American and Israeli interests.”