There is a heated dispute between the administration of US President Joe Biden and US Congress over the military aid provided on an annual basis to Egypt, a report by US Foreign Policy magazine has revealed.
Over the course of nearly 35 years, the United States has sent $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt to boost the important geopolitical relationship between the United States and Egypt and help stabilize the uneasy relations between Egypt and Washington’s most important ally in the Middle East, Israel.
In recent years, Congress has set a rule requiring that part of this funding – about $300 million – be conditional on the Egyptian government’s adherence to some basic human rights conditions, but the US president has the right to waive this rule for reasons of national security, which is usually used – approximately every year – to maintain full continuity of aid payments.
Although the Biden administration says it stands for human rights, but it seems ready to resist some cuts to Egypt’s $1.3 billion annual military subsidy, the FP report stated, adding:
“A battle is brewing between the Biden administration and Congress over military aid to a crucial but autocratic ally in the Middle East, a fight that drives at the heart of values in U.S. foreign policy and President Joe Biden’s vows to stand up to dictators and defend human rights abroad.”
Now a growing group of jurists and lawmakers – particularly from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party – want Biden to send a message to Cairo that Washington will not accept the status quo by sending the same amount of military assistance, given Egypt’s poor human rights record.
They see that doing anything less means that Biden is acquiescing in the important human rights promise he made during his presidential campaign, as he had written on Twitter in July 2020, in a clear reference to Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, “No more blank checks.” Trump’s favorite dictator.
They argue that doing anything less means that Biden is not living up to an important human rights promise he made during his presidential campaign.
“The state of human rights in Egypt is just as appalling as it was before Biden took office, as it was last year, and as it is now,” said Seth Bender, advocacy director at the Project on Middle East Democracy.
Adam Keith, the director of accountability at Human Rights First, retweeted part of the FP report: “ FP: “A growing chorus of human rights groups and lawmakers…want Biden to send a message to Egypt that the United States won’t accept the status quo of sending the same amount of military assistance, in light of Egypt’s dismal record on human rights.”
“They argue that by doing anything less, Biden is caving on an important human rights promise made during his presidential campaign.”
“‘The human rights situation in Egypt is just as terrible as it was before Biden came into office, as it was last year, as it is now,’ said Seth Binder, director of advocacy at the Project on Middle East Democracy, adding ‘Sisi is one of the most brutal dictators in the world.’”
Adam Keith is responsible for Human Rights First’s work advancing human rights in U.S. foreign policy, with a focus on tools and institutions that help promote accountability for serious abuses and corruption.