An Open Letter to President Barack Obama

April 18, 2016

Dear President Obama,

As scholars of Egypt and the Middle East, we the undersigned would like to urge you, on Tax Day, to support civilian, democratic rule in Egypt by suspending military aid to the country.

For more than thirty years, the US government has spent billions of dollars to help build and sustain a system of rule that does not serve the interests of the Egyptian people. The core of that regime has always been a small military class whose power is underwritten by American taxpayers. This was true under Hosni Mubarak and it is just as true today.

The current president of the country, Abdel Fattah El Sisi, may have been elected, but observers have never ceased questioning the legitimacy of those elections, nor the bloody circumstances of his rise to power. As the Sisi government stumbles from one crisis to the next, it has become increasingly violent toward its critics, the vast majority of whom propose nothing more than civic, pragmatic solutions to the country’s most vexing problems. Their non-violent, civic engagement has been met with arbitrary arrests and incarceration, disappearances and torture. Free speech and expression are a thing of the past, and violations of the right to organize, travel and conduct research are rife. Today, Egypt has become a vast penal colony.

As taxpayers, we morally object to the idea that our money goes to prop up an autocratic and violent regime in Cairo. We urge your administration to turn away from the old policies that brought us here, and embark on a new course toward peace, democracy and prosperity for the people of Egypt. We call on you to suspend military aid to Egypt’s military rulers until you have time to undertake a comprehensive review of our policy toward the country.


1. Khaled Abou El Fadl (UCLA)
2. Fida Adely (Georgetown University)
3. Anthony Alessandrini (City University of New York)
4. Samer Mahdy Ali (University of Michigan)
5. Lori Allen (SOAS, University of London)
6. Nabil Al-Takriti (University of Mary Washington)
7. Noha Arafa (National Lawyers Guild)
8. Andrew Arato (New School)
9. Walter Armbrust (University of Oxford)
10. Mona Atia (George Washington University)
11. Aslı Bâli (UCLA School of Law)
12. Beth Baron (City University of New York)
13. Lydia Bassaly (Columbia University)
14. Moustafa Bayoumi (Brooklyn College, CUNY)
15. Joel Beinin (Stanford University)
16. Amahl Bishara (Tufts University)
17. Audrey Bomse (National Lawyers Guild)
18. Marilyn Booth (University of Oxford)
19. Laurie A. Brand (University of Southern California)
20. Michaelle L. Browers (Wake Forest University)
21. Jonathan Brown (Georgetown University)
22. Jason Brownlee (University of Texas, Austin)
23. Rosie Bsheer (Yale University)
24. Charles E. Butterworth (University of Maryland)
25. Sheila Carapico (University of Richmond)
26. Noam Chomsky (MIT)
27. Elliott Colla (Georgetown University)
28. Don Conway-Long (Webster University)
29. Rochelle Davis (Georgetown University)
30. Lara Deeb (Scripps College)
31. Andrea Dessì (London School of Economics)
32. Emily Drumsta (University of California, Berkeley)
33. Mona El-Ghobashy (Independent scholar)
34. Mohamad Elmasry (University of North Alabama)
35. Omnia El Shakry (University of California, Davis)
36. John Esposito (Georgetown University)
37. Ilana Feldman (George Washington University)
38. Alexa Firat (Temple University)
39. James Gelvin (UCLA)
40. Alan Gilbert (University of Denver)
41. Ellis J. Goldberg (University of Washington)
42. Joel Gordon (University of Arkansas)
43. Elaine C. Hagopian (Simmons College)
44. Sondra Hale (UCLA)
45. Hanan Hammad (Texas Christian University)
46. Ian M. Hartshorn (University of Nevada, Reno)
47. Nader Hashemi (University of Denver)
48. Jane Hathaway (Ohio State University)
49. Donald Hindley (Brandeis University)
50. Elizabeth M. Holt (Bard College)
51. Deena R. Hurwitz (American University)
52. Toby C. Jones (Rutgers University)
53. Lorenzo Kamel (Harvard University)
54. Arang Keshavarzian (New York University)
55. Laleh Khalili (SOAS, University of London)
56. Dina Rizk Khoury (George Washington University)
57. Laurie King (Georgetown University)
58. Marwan M. Kraidy (University of Pennsylvania)
59. Vickie Langohr (College of the Holy Cross)
60. Mark Andrew LeVine (University of California, Irvine)
61. Darryl Li (Yale University)
62. Zachary Lockman (New York University)
63. Miriam R. Lowi (The College of New Jersey)
64. Melani McAlister (George Washington University)
65. Clea McNeely (University of Tennessee)
66. Shana Minkin (Sewanee: The University of the South)
67. Timothy Mitchell (Columbia University)
68. Pete W. Moore (Case Western Reserve University)
69. Amir Moosavi (New York University)
70. Norma Claire Moruzzi (University of Illinois, Chicago)
71. Tamir Moustafa (Simon Fraser University)
72. Bruce D. Nestor (National Lawyers Guild)
73. Roger Owen (Harvard University)
74. Sumita Pahwa (Scripps College)
75. Lisa A. Pollard (University of North Carolina, Wilmington)
76. Sara Pursley (Princeton University)
77. Noha Radwan (UC Davis)
78. Aziz Rana (Cornell University)
79. Kamran Rastegar (Tufts University)
80. Sarah Roche-Mahdi (Independent scholar)
81. Mona Russell (East Carolina University)
82. Atef Said (University of Illinois, Chicago)
83. Christa Salamandra (City University of New York)
84. Hesham Sallam (Stanford University)
85. Stuart Schaar (Brooklyn College, CUNY)
86. Aaron Schneider (University of Denver)
87. Jillian Schwedler (Hunter College & The Graduate Center, CUNY)
88. Samer Shehata (University of Oklahoma)
89. Paul Sedra (Simon Fraser University)
90. Omar Shakir (Center for Constitutional Rights)
91. Stephen Sheehi (College of William and Mary)
92. Tamara Sonn (Georgetown University)
93. Josh Stacher (Kent State University)
94. Gregory Starrett (University of North Carolina, Charlotte)
95. Rebecca L. Stein (Duke University)
96. Christopher Stone (Hunter College, CUNY)
97. Ted Swedenburg (University of Arkansas)
98. Elizabeth F. Thompson (University of Virginia)
99. Levi Thompson (UCLA)
100. Chris Toensing (MERIP)
101. Judith Tucker (Georgetown University)
102. John Voll (Georgetown University)
103. Jeremy Walton (The Max Planck Institute)
104. Lisa Wedeen (University of Chicago)
105. Max D. Weiss (Princeton University)
106. Mark R. Westmoreland (Leiden University)
107. Jessica Winegar (Northwestern University)
108. John Womack, Jr. (Harvard University)

How to cite this article:

"Suspend US Military Aid to Egypt," Middle East Report Online, April 18, 2016.

For 50 years, MERIP has published critical analysis of Middle Eastern politics, history, and social justice not available in other publications. Our articles have debunked pernicious myths, exposed the human costs of war and conflict, and highlighted the suppression of basic human rights. After many years behind a paywall, our content is now open-access and free to anyone, anywhere in the world. Your donation ensures that MERIP can continue to remain an invaluable resource for everyone.


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