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Inside Story

Did US funds help oust Morsi?

We discuss claims that Washington has quietly bankrolled Egyptian groups that pressed for the president's removal.

Last Modified: 13 Jul 2013 12:41
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The United States government insists it is not taking sides in the Egyptian crisis but investigators at the University of California, Berkeley, say they have documents that tell a different story.

Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have called on supporters to join protests across Cairo as pro-Morsi supporters already stage rallies at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in the Cairo suburb of Nasr City.

Meanwhile, people who support the military coup that deposed Morsi say they will hold rallies in Tahrir Square. But some anti-Morsi figures are now at the centre of a controversial report that accuses them of receiving funding from the United States.

It turns out that some of the people who received that kind of funding were major advocates of subversive activities on the ground - meaning violence in many cases.

Emad Mekay, University of California's investigative reporting programme

The report says that Washington gave money to senior figures in Egypt's opposition, many of whom wanted Mohamed Morsi deposed as president. 

Among the groups that are said to have funneled millions of dollars to Egyptian activists, is the National Endowment for Democracy, a quasi-governmental organisation based in Washington.

Money from the state department is said to have been given to opposition members under the guise of "democracy assistance".

 Almost once a year Emad Mekay comes up with a similar article, he seems to be obsessed with the idea that the United States is financing political activism in Egypt - he never is able to establish the facts. 

 Hisham Kassem, a journalist and publisher

And among those who received funding was a former police officer, Colonel Omar Afifi Soliman, who is said to have plotted violent attacks against Egyptian officials.

After the September 11 attacks, the US started more radical efforts of its so-called democracy promotion.

President George Bush set up a number of organisations designed to engage civil society groups and promote good governance in the Middle East.

There was also some short-lived diplomatic pressure from the US to hold free elections. In 2005, that resulted in Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood winning a number of seats in parliamentary elections.

President Barack Obama tried to draw a line between him and his predecessor. In a speech in Cairo in 2009 he said no system of government should be imposed on one nation by another.

But Obama has also been criticised for his reaction to the Arab Spring, which sometimes has looked hesitant and inconsistent.

How important is the money spent by the US government for promoting its interests in the Middle East and beyond?

Inside Story, with Hazem Sika, discusses with guests: Emad Mekay, from the investigative reporting programme at the University of California. He is also the author of the article about US spending in Egypt; Stephen McInerney, the executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy; and Hisham Kassem, a journalist and publisher.

Al Jazeera has been trying to contact the US state department for a reaction on this topic but at this point, our efforts have been unsuccessful.

"I think this is an extremely irresponsible, extremely misleading report .... his conclusions are rather absurd. It is absurd to suggest that the United States had some sort of conspiracy to overthrow or to oust President Morsi when the United States government was supporting the government of President Morsi and the Egyptian military with funds that dwarf any small amount used to support democracy and governance."

Stephen McInerney, the executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy

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