The United States will deduct EGP 2.5 billion (USD 130 million) from Egypt’s EGP 5.7 billion (USD 300 million) annual foreign military aid due to the Biden administration’s concerns over Egypt’s human rights conditions, according to an unnamed US official interviewed by Reuters.
Despite acknowledgement by US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, over Egypt’s recent trends in releasing hundreds of detainees and prisoners, the US official explained that certain human rights conditions are yet to be met amid pressures from US-based human rights lobbyists.
The human rights groups campaigned for a complete block in military aid, citing cases of torture and forced disappearances. Despite the lobbying, the US official told Reuters that US State Department lawyers concluded that no more than 10 percent of the US’s annual EGP 25 billion (USD 1.3 billion) aid could be withheld.
Since 1978, the US has provided Egypt’s military with over EGP 945 billion (USD 50 billion) in military aid, placing Egypt’s army as one of the top three most funded militaries by the US.
Recent military assistance between the two countries comes in light of counter-terrorist operations over the past decade, a matter that both Biden and President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi proudly recounted during their meeting on 16 July in Saudi Arabia.
State Department officials added that Egypt is receiving a separate EGP 1.8 billion (USD 95 million) for counterterrorism and border patrol.
“The approach taken here reflects the administration’s concerns about human rights and fundamental freedoms in Egypt, while also seeking to preserve the engagement and dialogue we have had over the last 20 months,” elaborated an unnamed senior State Department official.
“We have … been extremely clear with the Egyptian government at every level about the actions and steps that are necessary to strengthen our relationship.”
Egypt’s new human rights strategy, inaugurated by Al-Sisi on 11 September 2021, is one of Egypt’s many steps towards improving its human rights standards, acting as a means to revisit and reconsider the country’s human rights situation.
Since then, the country’s Presidential Pardon Committee was reactivated in April 2022, releasing hundreds of political prisoners and pretrial detainees.
A detailed report by Egypt’s Supreme Standing Committee for Human Rights further elaborated on the country’s effort to step up its human rights record. Chief among these efforts is the national dialogue, also inaugurated by Al-Sisi, which hoped to bring in political opposition to debate the sociopolitical climate in the country.
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