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Why Egypt is Important to America
With hundreds killed and more rioting occurring over the Egyptian military crackdown, president Obama faces a tenuous position. The American administration has called off its annual military exercise with them, which is just a minor slap to show disapproval of how their military leaders are handling the Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
But Egypt is very important to the US in practical ways to access the region, which accounts for the billions of aid given to them. One item is air access to the region. US flights flying into or over Egypt get an automatic approval prior to entering Egyptian airspace going to Iraq, Afghanistan, Horn of Africa or Southwest Asia. All other countries must request this a week in advance. When there is a crisis in the Middle East, US warships have top priority in moving through the Suez Canal. They bypass all other ships in the canal. Egypt is critical to keeping peace in the area with Israel. So far, 40 years have passed with no war between the two countries. The US helps diffuse treaty violations between Israel and Egypt with direct communication with their generals. Israel and Egypt are working together in the Sinai to remove the terrorists there and their smuggling operations as Iran tries to destabilize the region.
Should Egypt fall into anarchy or another Islamist state under the Muslim brotherhood, for example, all this would change for the worse for the US strategy to keep the region stabilized and in peace. Withdrawing the billions of aid, as some have suggested, may be more detrimental than sending a strong condemnation about what the Egyptian military is doing there. The US did delay the delivery of F-16 fighters bought by Egypt much to their anger. Egypt could instantly deny the airspace needed for US over flights to other regions and it could deny access or deny the "fast lane" in the Suez canal to US shipping. The current military could ask Russia for help. They were fully supported by them in the 1960's. Putin would love to return to Middle East. The Egyptian military could renounce the peace the treaty with Israel out of anger towards the US government should the aid be stopped.
In other words, Egypt is a crucial part of the Middle East problems and Obama has to be careful how to handle this current situation or it could get even worse.