Washington gives up using military aid as leverage on Cairo

It is a symbolic call to order that the US administration addressed to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on respect for human rights. Largely insufficient in the eyes of human rights organizations which denounce a ” treason “ by United States President Joe Biden. The State Department has decided to make the payment of a small part of the military aid allocated to Cairo – 130 million dollars, or 110 million euros – conditional on advances on human rights, said , Tuesday September 14, a spokesperson.

Of the $ 1.3 billion in annual US military aid, $ 300 million is tied to meeting human rights criteria. Despite the centrality it says it gives to the subject in its foreign policy, the Biden administration decided to bypass congressional control, as previous governments had done, and apply an exemption, in the name of the importance of the relationship with Egypt for national security.

US Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken “Not going to certify” at Congress “That the Egyptian government take lasting and effective measures” in favor of human rights, “Because we continue to discuss our serious concerns” about it, a State Department spokesperson said. However, it will derogate from the law by “Making available” these $ 300 million for support in terms of “Counter-terrorism, border security and non-proliferation”. In this envelope, 170 million will be released unconditionally, and 130 million only “If Egypt takes specific measures related to human rights”, he added. “Egypt is a valuable partner of the United States, especially on regional security, counter-terrorism and trade”, he justified.

“A missed opportunity”

The decision was denounced as a “A total betrayal” of the Biden administration’s commitments to “Put human rights at the centerœheart of its foreign policy, in particular in its relation with Egypt ” by 19 organizations – including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – in a joint statement. “The Biden administration had said it would no longer give a blank check to Trump’s favorite dictator. With this decision, it indicates that respect for human rights is only rhetorical and that President Sisi is not under any serious pressure to improve his human rights record ”, abounds Bahey Eldin Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS).

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