The government of Egypt indicated that it was caught off-guard by the U.S. decision to delay $195 million in military aid and completely cut $95.7 million in additional assistance, saying it was only given “a few hours” before the Trump administration made the move public, contradicting claims by the State Department.
The Egyptian newspaper al Ahram reports, “The Egyptian foreign ministry statement on Sunday denied reports that Egypt had sufficient prior notice of the planned reduction in aid, insisting that it was informed just hours before the US State Department went public.”
Egypt’s foreign ministry expressed “regret” last week when the U.S. announced its decision to reduce aid allocated to Cairo.
On Sunday, the ministry described the move as a “misjudgment about the nature of strategic relations” that have bound the two countries for two decades.
“Egypt sees this measure as reflecting a poor judgment of the strategic relationship that ties the two countries over long decades and as adopting a view that lacks an accurate understanding of the importance of supporting Egypt’s stability,” said the statement.
Last week, the ministry explained, the U.S. move lacks a correct understanding of “Egypt’s stability in light of the economic and security challenges facing the Egyptian people and also implies a mixing of cards that may have negative repercussions on achieving Egyptian-American common interests.”
Nevertheless, Trump administration officials insist that withholding money from Cairo will not have an impact on U.S.-Egyptian relations, particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism.
Last week, the Trump administration decided to withhold $195 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) until Egypt shows “progress in key areas, including human rights” and democratic “governance,” officials from the U.S. State Department and White House told Breitbart News.
The U.S. also decided to redirect an additional $95.7 million intended for Egypt, including $65.7 million in FMF aid and $30 million in economic support, to other “key security partners,” explained a State Department spokesperson.
Normally, Egypt receives $1.3 billion annually in military assistance from the United States and about $250 million more in economic aid.
U.S. law requires the administration to withhold 15 percent ($195 million) of the $1.3 billion unless Cairo can certify that Egypt is making progress on advancing human rights and democracy.
In announcing the aid cuts on August 23, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert denied that Cairo had been “caught off-guard” by the decision.
“They weren’t caught off guard, and that’s because the Secretary had a conversation with the foreign minister of Egypt and provided a heads-up as to what would be taking place. So were they caught off guard? The answer would be no,” the spokeswoman told reporters, without clarifying how much notice that the United States had given Cairo.
On Sunday, Cairo claimed that Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had only been given “a few hours” before the State Department made the decision public.
Citing the foreign ministry statement, Ahram Online reports that “US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informed Shoukry that the U.S. had decided to cut millions in aid and withhold more – but he failed to give adequate notice.”