Email exchange with the BBC’s Mark Mardell about US military aid to Egypt


Please see below an email exchange I had in January 2011 with Mark Mardell, the BBC’s North American Editor. Starts at the top.
 
 
Dear Mark
 
I read with interest your blog today on the Egyptian protests ('Egypt unrest a dilemma for Obama', 28 January 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2011/01/egypt_unrest_poses_a_dilemma_f.html).
 
I note you mention Egypt "gets $1.5bn (£942m) in aid from the US, just behind Israel, Pakistan and Afghanistan". Meanwhile Dan Murphy at the Christian Science Monitor notes "the US provides about $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt a year" (Joe Biden says Egypt's Mubarak no dictator, he shouldn't step down…', 27 January 2011, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Backchannels/2011/0127/Joe-Biden-says-Egypt-s-Mubarak-no-dictator-he-shouldn-t-step-down). Are you and Murphy talking about the same thing? If so, why did you refer to "aid" while Murphy referred to "military aid"?
 
With the Egyptian Government sending the army onto the streets in attempt to stop the protests, this is a very important point, I think.
 
I look forward to your response.
 
Kind regards
 
Ian Sinclair

 
 
Dear Ian,
 
I agree it is an important point.  The figure is not only military aid because it includes civil society/promoting democracy stuff. But I confess I don';t know if it includes military aid. AP are saying that the US is reviewing aid. We are checking this out and I am trying to break down the figure. 
 
Mark Mardell

 

 
 
Dear Mark
 
Thank you for you response.
 
To be honest I am a little shocked that a professional, full-time BBC journalist writing about US "aid" to Eygpt, by his own admission, doesn't know if this includes military aid.
 
I would draw your attention to a Reuter's report from earlier today (''Factbox: Most U.S. aid to Egypt goes to military', http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/29/us-egypt-usa-aid-idUSTRE70S0IN20110129). The report notes "In 2010, $1.3 billion went to strengthen Egyptian forces versus $250 million in economic aid. Another $1.9 million went for training meant to bolster long-term U.S.-Egyptian military cooperation". The story goes on to note "Part of U.S. economic aid is spent on democracy promotion programs in Egypt". So to be clear the report suggests only part of the "$250 million in economic aid" is used for "democracy promotion programs in Egypt" compared to over $1.3 billion going to the Egyptian military – i.e. the vast majority of US "aid" to Egypt is military aid.
 
With the above information in mind I hope your future reporting will reflect the facts of the issue, rather than downplayign the US support for the military in Egypt.
 
Kind regards
 
Ian Sinclair

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