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The Egyptian minister seen as the driving force behind impending trials of NGO workers, including 19 Americans, told investigators that the US funded groups to create a state of prolonged chaos in Egypt, official media reported Monday.
Planning and International Cooperation Minister Fayza Abouelnaga, believed to be the instigator of a judicial probe into foreign-funded civil society groups, made the accusation during her testimony to investigating judges in October.
Abouelnaga, one of the few remaining ministers from former President Mubarak's era, added that the United States and Israel want to hijack Egypt's uprising, which toppled Mubarak a year ago, to serve the interests of Washington and the Jewish state.
"The United States and Israel could not directly create a state of chaos and work to maintain it in Egypt, so they used direct funding to organizations, especially American NGOs, as a means of implementing these goals," state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA) quoted her as saying, in the first public disclosure of these statements.
The impending trials of 43 activists, including 19 Americans, have deepened a rift between the longtime allies, with the US State Department hinting that the crackdown could jeopardize American aid to Egypt.
"The 25 January revolution events came as a surprise to the United States… and it lost control over it after it turned into a revolution of the entire Egyptian population," Abouelnaga said.
"That was when the United States decided to use all its resources and instruments to contain the situation and push it in a direction that promotes American and also Israeli interests," MENA quoted her as saying.
"All evidence indicates a clear desire and determination to abort any opportunity for Egypt to rise as a modern democratic nation with a strong economy,” she said. “This would represent the biggest threat to Israeli and American interests, not only in Egypt, but in the region as a whole."
MENA reported that a judicial investigation into the funding of several civil society groups found that the United States had diverted aid promised to the Egyptian government for infrastructure to the NGOs.
Cairo prosecutors backed by police in December stormed the offices of the US-funded International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House as part of a probe into the NGOs’ alleged illegal foreign funding. They were among 17 offices of local and international NGOs raided.
The crackdown was part of a wider campaign by Egypt's military rulers to silence dissent after months of criticism of its human rights record, analysts said.
The ruling generals, who took charge of the country after an uprising forced Mubarak to resign a year ago, traditionally had close ties with the United States, the Egyptian military's most generous foreign benefactor.
The aid workers are accused of "setting up branches of international organizations in Egypt without a license from the Egyptian government" and of "receiving illegal foreign funding."