For several years, the United States has given Egypt billions for the promotion of democracy. We believed that if we ensured Egypt's financial dependence on us, they would be forced to listen to our recommendations about installing democracy. Because those efforts have failed for decades, Obama began to pull funding from Egypt to invest it in more worthwhile prospects.
The United States still heavily supports the Egyptian military with around $1.25 billion per year. However, we used to give $45 million to programs for Governing Justly and Democratically. Under Obama, it dropped to $20 million.
In the past few days many Egyptians Tweeted about the reasons for their protest and how poor things have gotten recently. They blame President Mubarak for the deteriorating economy and conditions. They recognize his increasingly brutish tactics used to squelch independent thought and individual success. Coupled with the overthrow of their next door neighbor's dictator in Tunisia, the Egyptians feel quite empowered to reform the government in the way they see fit. I'm not saying it's a good thing. It's too early for that. Based on the funding cuts by Obama, Jordan was predestined to protest and possibly revolt.
If Obama was truly committed to democracy in Egypt he would cut funding to the Egyptian Military as well. After all, President Mubarak will inevitably use them against the protesters (I just heard that he has called them in).
I'm intrigued by all the events that led to this and how they will turn out. I'm far from convinced that the overthrow of two semi-secular dictatorships and replacing them, almost certainly, with yet another Muslim theocracy will lead to anything more sanguine in the Middle East.