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Crisis in Egypt: US seeks to preserve influence. Is there any left?

The administration's cautious approach to Egypt, far from preserving its influence, may have signaled to the military rulers that the US needs Egypt more than the reverse, analysts say.

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White House principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest answers questions at the White House in Washington, Aug. 19. Earnest said, 'Our aid and assistance relationship with Egypt is under a review, but it has not been cut off.' President Obama ordered a review of military aid to Egypt in early July, but that review 'has not concluded,' Earnest said.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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The Obama administration’s cautious approach to Egypt and the behind-the-scenes, program-by-program review it is undertaking of US military aid to Egypt suggests it is seeking a way to preserve influence with the country’s new military rulers.

But that influence has dwindled to mattering very little as the military pursues its domestic political goals full steam ahead, regional analysts say. If anything, some of them add, the administration’s careful efforts to preserve a decades-old regional security strategy based on Egypt may only be encouraging Egypt’s generals to proceed knowing that the US needs Egypt more than Egypt needs the US.

“The administration’s cautious, step-by-step approach only reinforces the thinking in the minds of the generals” that they can proceed on the “very dangerous” repressive path they’ve chosen under the assumption that America values a stable Egypt too much to cut it loose, says Brian Katulis, a senior analyst of US national security interests in the Middle East at Washington’s Center for American Progress.

 
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