US Poised to Cut Significant Aid to Egypt

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- While Saudi Arabia strengthens bilateral ties with Egypt's interim government and provides it with badly needed funding, the Obama administration is poised to announce significant cutbacks to its annual aid package.

In July, following the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, the Saudi government offered Egypt a $5 billion aid package -- $2 billion to the central bank to help with the high deficit, $2 billion in energy products and $1 billion in cash.

"We will support Egypt against terrorism, sedition and those who try to undermine its security," Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz said, Asharq al-Awsat quoted the Saudi Press.

If taking away aid means taking away security, Does that open the door for terrorists in the region? CBN News' Terrorism Analyst Erick Sakelbeck answers this and more on the Wednesday, Oct. 9. Newswatch.

The Saudi king made the announcement during a visit by interim Egyptian President Adli Mansour to Jeddah earlier this week during the first leg of a regional tour that took him to Jordan Tuesday.

"Egypt is in safe hands," Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz said after Mansour's departure. "Egypt's strength is the strength for the Arab world."

Meanwhile, the Obama administration plans to drastically cut its $1.5 billion annual aid to Egypt, $1.3 billion of which is military aid, the Associated Press reported.

According to the report, anonymous U.S officials told AP "the recommendation calls for a significant amount to be withheld," but the final decision is up to President Obama.

Last month, Obama told the U.N. General Assembly future U.S. aid "will depend on Egypt's progress in pursuing a democratic path."

The Obama administration canceled the joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercise after Morsi's ouster last summer and said he was reviewing the annual aid package.

Israel, meanwhile, is thankful for the transition taking place in Egypt and especially in the Sinai Desert.

On Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz praised the Egyptian military crackdown on terror cells operating in the Sinai and along the border with the Gaza Strip.

"Sinai, a lawless area that has become a bastion for terror, is being dealt with by elements that we did not necessarily expect just two years ago or less as having a genuine interest in operating there," the IDF chief said at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies' 20th Anniversary Conference.

Gantz praised Egypt's efforts to seal arms smuggling tunnels that have supplied Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups with advanced weaponry from Iran, Syria and Libya and other Islamist strongholds.

"Gaza, which got its oxygen from the terror tunnels through Sinai, is dealing with doors now closed to it," he said.

Last month, former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Zvi Mazel told CBN News Egyptians want to create a pro-Western, democratic country, something that has yet to be understood by Washington, Europe and the media, for the most part.

"Egypt has a population of 85 million people," Mazel said. "It is a friend of the West, the most moderate Arab country."

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