The United States has provided a further $195 million to Egypt in military aid, despite concern over the country’s dismal human rights record.
“Recognizing steps Egypt has taken over the last year in response to specific US concerns, and in the spirit of our efforts to further strengthen this partnership, the Administration has decided to allow Egypt to use the remaining $195 million in FY 2016 (foreign military financing) for military procurements,” a State Department official told CNN.
Last year, the Trump administration denied Egypt $100 million in aid citing concern over its failure to respect human rights and democratic norms, which include a crackdown on political dissent and freedom of expression. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry described the decision as a “misjudgment” on the part of Washington.
“There remain areas of concern, and we will continue to make clear the need for progress in addressing them, including fully resolving 2013 NGO convictions and addressing our concerns about the NGO law,” the official added.
As noted by Human Rights Watch, President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi government is currently presiding over the “worst human rights crisis in the country in decades.”
“Police systematically used torture, arbitrary arrests, and enforced disappearances to silence political dissent,” the group claims. “Thousands of civilians were tried by military courts.”
“By introducing new restrictive NGO legislation, detaining journalists, and prosecuting human rights defenders and subjecting them to travel bans, the government is working to eradicate independent civil society in the country,” the summary continues. “The crackdown on LGBT people has grown increasingly vicious, along with the continued repression of labor activists.”
However, the U.S. and Egypt maintain close military ties in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism, with the country’s northern Sinai Peninsula subject to terror attacks and jihadi activity. As such, the U.S. has long provided military aid to support government forces, and have given nearly $30 billion in aid since the end of the 1980’s.
Last year, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with President Donald Trump at the White House, where he praised Trump’s approach to tackling radical Islamic terrorism.
“I’ve had a deep appreciation and admiration of your unique personality, especially as you are standing very strong in the counter-terrorism field,” he said. “To counter this evil ideology that is claiming innocent lives, that is bringing devastation to communities and nations, and that is terrorizing the innocent people.”