Photo Credit: tate Department Photo by Ron Przysucha
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to media at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 26, 2021.

The Biden Administration has informed Congress it will block $130 million in military aid to Egypt over “specific human rights-related conditions” that were set in September and were to be met by the end of this month. At the time, the State Department demanded Egypt increase protection of the rights of political critics and opponents, journalists, women and members of civil society.

Three hundred million dollars in military aid was first held back last September by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who demanded Egypt first address the concerns over Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s jailing of political opponents.

Advertisement



However, $170 million was released to Egypt at the time for counterterrorism, border control and non-proliferation.

“The [Egyptian government) has made notable progress on the conditions but to date has not met them all,” the State Department said this week in a statement. “Therefore, after January 30, the Secretary intends to reprogram the $130 million to other national security priorities.”

The money is to be reallocated to other countries, sources said.

Egypt is nevertheless a close ally of the United States; last Tuesday the White House approved a $2.5 billion weapons sale to Cairo, which includes 12 Super Hercules C-130 transport planes and three radar systems.

The State Department said in an announcement the arms sale would “support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally country that continues to be an important strategic partner in the Middle East.

““We maintain that our bilateral relationship with Egypt will be stronger, and America’s interests will be better served, through continued US engagement to advance our national security interests, including addressing our human rights concerns,” the State Department added.

Egypt receives approximately $1.3 billion annually in military funding from the United States. The State Department can use a national security waiver to bypass the human rights stipulations attached to the aid – as it has in the past.

The State of Israel had “no comment” on the matter, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry told JewishPress.com.

The government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been waging a crackdown on dissent in recent years, jailing not only Islamists but secular activists who were involved in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that overthrew the government of long-time President Hosni Mubarak.

After a series of deadly church bombings and attacks on Coptic Christians that left more than 100 dead and scores wounded, al-Sisi in 2017 imposed a state of emergency that allowed his government to make arrests without warrants, establish special courts and rapidly prosecute suspects. The last extension of the state of emergency expired last October and was not renewed.

A member of the US Senate Appropriations Committee expressed his approval of the decision to deny Egypt $130 million and reallocate the funds. “It sends the important message abroad that we will back up our commitment to human rights with action and gone are the days where dictators receive blank checks from America,” said Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT).

In 2017, the Trump Administration withheld nearly $300 million in aid over human rights issues. Eventually, $195 million of those funds were released.

Advertisement

SHARE
Previous articleAs Snow Falls, Thousands Bid Final Farewell to Fallen NYPD Det. Jason Rivera
Next articleWater Level of Lake Kinneret is Still Rising!
Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.