Conflict & Justice

US NGO crisis in Egypt deepens


Egypt raided a number of civil society groups last week, including two from the US. Its military-run government promised to return equipment seized in the raid, but organization officials say nothing has been returned to them so far.



A crisis over Egypt's storming last week of 10 civil society organizations, including at least two American non-profits, has yet to be solved.

Egyptian police and special forces on Dec. 29, 2011 stormed the offices of the International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Cairo and other cities, alleging the organizations are receive illegal foreign funding and drawing condemnation from the US.

The offices of the local Egyptian NGOs targeted in the raid have reportedly been sealed with wax, in a move rights groups say is aimed at stifling domestic dissent against the military.

Here are some of the latest developments on the status of the US NGOs targeted:

- None of the equipment, including computers and paper files, seized from both IRI and NDI has been returned to the organizations, according to CNN.

- US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters the situation is “unacceptable,” and called the foreign-funding charges “a very aggressive propaganda effort to scare the Egyptian people" on Tuesday. 

- Faiza Aboul Naga Egypt’s minister of International Cooperation and a stalwart of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, announced earlier in the week that the organizations were promoting political instability in Egypt, and that they would remain under investigation by the public prosecutor.

In his blog on the site of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, Steven A. Cook, Middle East analyst and fellow, writes of the impasse:

“ terms of U.S.-Egypt relations, going after the NGOs represents yet another step in the long goodbye between the two countries.”

We shall see.