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Abstract

This article evaluates the political economy of U.S. aid in Egypt, arguing that transnational actors worked symbiotically with political and crony capitalist Egyptian elite to formulate and implement aid policies. The transnational elite project, narratively described as promoting ‘market democracy,’ defined reforms within a narrow frame where political and economic engagement would not challenge the dominant U.S.-Israeli security structure. The aid regime used a dual strategy based on partnerships and privatization, whereby reforms functioned to enhance asymmetric elite profit-making, economic integration into the U.S.-dominated capitalist system, and the geostrategic stability, and hence, dictatorship, within that order. Dictatorial power was central to transnational profits which connected directly to the aid regime and generated greater exclusion and inequality within Egypt. These effects led many critics to view U.S. aid and the changes that it effected as subordinating, both domestically, in terms of socio-political and socio-economic relations, and externally, in terms of Egypt’s stature and foreign policies.

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