The United Arab Emirates have long been an ally of the United States, which made it all the more baffling when they made the move to shutter the National Democratic Institute. Their actions came amidst the public outcry of what many Egyptians believed to be foreign interference.

The Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at a conference in Saudi Arabia to address the issue publicly. Egypt’s decision to take action against multiple non-profit U.S. institutes has prompted a debate in Washington over whether foreign aid should be withheld. The Obama administration eventually permitted an arms sale between the two nations to move forward after Egypt allowed staff members of the American organizations to safely exit the country. A German organization was also targeted and forced to close its doors.

The forced closures of the organizations created tensions during Clinton’s visit to the Persian Gulf. The original purpose of the visit was to strengthen the alliance between the U.S. and the Gulf Cooperation Council and address issues concerning anti-terrorism and nuclear proliferation. However, Clinton also found herself addressing Egypt’s action against the U.S. led organizations.

Despite the dismay over Egypt’s decision against the American groups, the U.S. hopes to continue to strengthen military relations with the gulf nations. The aim is to forge a military stronghold that includes a military defense system, which would serve as the main point of defense against military aggression from Iran.

Despite amicable relations between the two nations, The U.S. has blasted the gulf nations for human rights violations. The criticisms occurred right after the gulf council dispatched military forces to quell protestors in Bahrain who were in opposition against the region’s suppressive government policy.

Organizations like the National Democratic Institute have mainly provided programs in support of women’s role in the country. At this point, it is still unclear why Egypt made the decision to shut them down.