US to hold $130m of Egypt’s military aid over human rights


The Biden administration will withhold $130 million worth of military aid to Egypt in order to pressure the Arab ally to improve its human rights record, two sources familiar with the matter, including a US official, said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned move is a break with his predecessors’ policy of overriding a congressional check on military aid to Egypt. In the past, an exception was granted to free up $300 million in Foreign Military Financing for Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi‘s government on that argument that it was in the interest of US national security.

But a portion of the financing, $130 million, will now be withheld on human rights concerns but will be available in future fiscal years if Egypt improves its record, the official who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

An announcement could come later this week, sources said.

A State Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Politico had reported the move late on Monday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and India's Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar hold a joint news conference at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan (JNB) in New Delhi, India July 28, 2021 (credit: REUTERS)US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and India’s Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar hold a joint news conference at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan (JNB) in New Delhi, India July 28, 2021 (credit: REUTERS)

More than a dozen rights groups told Blinken in a letter in April that if he refused to release the funds “the United States will send a clear message that it is serious about its commitment to supporting human rights abroad.”

Sisi, who ousted the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, has overseen a crackdown on dissent that has tightened in recent years. He denies there are political prisoners in Egypt and says stability and security are paramount.

President Joe Biden has pledged to put human rights at the heart of his foreign policy and rights advocates have been pushing Washington to get tougher on Sisi, even though ties with Egypt had improved after Cairo’s mediation role to help end the hostilities in April between Israel and Hamas militants.





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