Egypt lifted its travel ban against 7 Americans Thursday, defusing one of the worst crises in U.S.-Egypt relations in decades. Held since December on the highly politicized charges of fomenting unrest, the Americans were working with NGO's in the country.
State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland cautions, however, that the conflict remains unresolved. Though the U.S. paid $5 million to secure their bail, the Americans must still return to face trial unless the Egyptian government decides to drop the charges.
Furthermore, the event has put Egypt's $1.5 billion in U.S. aid in jeopardy. Not only was the conflict unacceptable between allies, but the Muslim Brotherhood- the Islamist group leading Egypt's Parliament- is now calling for an investigation into who allowed planes to fetch the defendants. One Brotherhood member of Parliament, Akram el Shaer, even remarked that he was "sad and disappointed" that the Americans were freed.
According to the Washington Post,
For more aid to go through, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton must certify to Congress that Egypt is progressing in its democratic transformation. The evaluation will look at Egypt’s election process and issues such as Egypt’s treatment of nongovernment organizations, [State Department Spokeswoman] Nuland said. "We...want to see the NGO situation settled in a matter that allows all NGOs — our own, European NGOs, other international NGOs, Egyptian NGOs — to be registered,” she said. “We think that is part and parcel of the democratic transition.”
However, government officials stress that no decision has been made regarding Egypt's aid.
See Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham express their confidence and optimism about the situation (and the Muslim Brotherhood) on February 20:
The Associated Press Contributed to this Story