Despite repeated allegations of violations of human rights, the United States government has continued to provide Egypt with a significant amount of foreign military assistance under the administration of Vice President Joe Biden. The administration’s rationale for this decision is that Egypt is essential to protecting U.S. national security interests.
Only $85 million of the aid has been withheld by Washington so far. This amount was required by U.S. legislation to be withheld if Egypt failed to make “clear and consistent progress” in releasing political detainees. According to the United States, Cairo did not fulfill this requirement.
The money withheld is a very small portion of the annual budget of $1.3 billion set aside for Egypt.
Since Egypt, the nation with the most people in the Arab world, signed a peace accord with Israel in 1979, the United States has been a significant source of military and other assistance for Egypt. This assistance has been ongoing for a long time. Washington has maintained tight ties with Cairo as an important regional ally.
According to authorities from the United States, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken exercised his discretion to waive these criteria even though the legislation permits an additional $235 million to be withheld because that amount is also contingent on Egypt completing requirements for democracy and human rights.
A senior State Department official who briefed reporters on the decision stated that “Egypt’s voice is a crucial one,” on so many issues across the region that we’re trying to work together in the spirit of regional peace and security. This was noted by the official who briefed reporters on the decision.
According to other officials of the United States government, who also spoke on anonymity, the decision did not make the United States any less committed to furthering human rights in Egypt. According to the authorities, the United States government has engaged the Egyptian government in “tough conversations” about the country’s human rights track record.
However, human rights organizations that have long accused Egypt of serious violations under the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, including torture and enforced disappearances, have stated that the decision made by the United States sends the incorrect message.
“The administration is effectively telling Sisi’s government that it saw improvement in the human rights situation over the past year, when in fact things have degenerated significantly,” a consortium of 16 groups, including Freedom House and the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), said in a statement. A consortium of 16 organizations issued the statement.
This undermines any attempts made by the administration to address human rights problems in Egypt and will only further encourage al-Sisi, causing further destabilization of the country. “This will only further embolden al-Sisi,”
Sisi has repeatedly denied that Egypt is holding political detainees. According to him, maintaining peace and order is of the utmost importance, and authorities are doing their part to advance civil rights by working to meet fundamental requirements like employment and adequate housing.
According to political observers, Western nations are hesitant to take major action against a strategic ally that has served as a mediator in long-standing issues such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, which also controls the Suez Canal, one of the most valuable trade lanes in the world.