US military aid to Egypt released despite rights concerns

Sep 14, 2021, 4:59 AM | Updated: 5:18 pm
Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Tu...

Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Blinken was questioned about the Biden administration's handling of the U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan. (Jabin Botsford/Pool via AP)

(Jabin Botsford/Pool via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is releasing nearly $200 million in military aid to Egypt but will hold back millions more over human rights concerns, the State Department said Tuesday in an announcement quickly criticized by rights groups and some lawmakers.

The department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken would withhold $130 million of $300 million in military financing for Egypt due to the concerns. It said he would allow the rest go through to preserve U.S.-Egypt security engagement that Washington believes is critical to Mideast stability.

The $170 million to be released will be sent using authority the administration has to waive human rights conditions placed on the assistance by Congress. Under federal law, the secretary of state must certify that Egypt is meeting those conditions or issue a waiver for the aid to be sent.

The department said Blinken was unable to certify compliance but added that continued engagement with Egypt is a critical U.S. national security interest. The decision was criticized by human rights groups and some lawmakers as an indication the Biden administration is reneging on pledges to put human rights at the center of its foreign policy.

“Because we are continuing to discuss our serious concerns about human rights in Egypt, the secretary of state will not certify that the government of Egypt is taking sustained and effective steps related to the legislative human rights-related conditions” on the aid, the department said.

Nonetheless it said the administration would provide the majority of the assistance for border security, nonproliferation and counterterrorism programs while withholding the remaining $130 million. The withheld amount will be released “if the government of Egypt affirmatively addresses specific human-rights related conditions,” the department said.

Anticipating criticism of the announcement, which was previewed to some lawmakers on Monday, the State Department said the administration’s human rights concerns about Egypt, which remains in the throes of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s harsh crackdown on dissent, are significant.

But, it said maintaining positive ties with Sisi’s government is important and noted that new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had visited Egypt just on Monday. Egypt is one of just two Arab nations to have gone to war with Israel to have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state.

“Our bilateral relationship with Egypt will be stronger, and America’s interests will be better served, through continued U.S. engagement to advance our national security interests, including addressing our human rights concerns,” the State Department said.

Under Sissi, Egypt has seen the heaviest crackdown on dissent in its modern history. Officials have targeted not only Islamist political opponents but also pro-democracy activists, journalists and online critics. Lengthy pretrial detentions have become a common practice to keep the government’s critics behind bars for as long as possible.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a strong supporter of President Joe Biden who has repeatedly called for human rights conditions to be attached and enforced for foreign aid, lamented the decision. He called it “a big missed opportunity to stand up strongly and unequivocally for human rights.”

“Continuing our security relationship with Egypt, with only minor changes, sends the wrong message,” Murphy said in a statement. “This was a chance to send a strong message about America’s commitment to human rights and democracy, with little cost to our security, and we fell short.”

A group of 19 human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Freedom House, also decried the decision, calling it “a terrible blow to its stated commitment to human rights and to the rule of law.”

“This administration has repeatedly vowed to put human rights at the center of its foreign policy and specifically its relationship with Egypt,” they said. “This decision, however, is a betrayal of these commitments.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

LANSING, W.Va. (AP) — A small plane crashed Sunday in southern West Virginia, killing three V...
Associated Press

3 killed in small plane crash in southern West Virginia

LANSING, W.Va. (AP) — A small plane crashed Sunday in southern West Virginia, killing three Virginia residents on board, authorities said. The single-engine Beechcraft C23 went down after taking off from the Fayette Airport in Fayetteville at about 11 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. State police Capt. R.A. Maddy told news […]
18 hours ago
FILE - In this July 27, 2021 file photo, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., listens to testimony from Washingt...
Associated Press

Liz Cheney: `I was wrong’ in opposing gay marriage in past

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Liz Cheney says she was wrong to oppose gay marriage in the past, a stand that once split her family. Cheney, R-Wyo., a fierce critic of fellow Republican Donald Trump, also tells CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that she views her reelection campaign as the most important House race in the nation […]
18 hours ago
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican soldiers found a 43-acre (17.4-hectare) marijuana farm in the nort...
Associated Press

Mexican soldiers discover 43-acre marijuana farm in north

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican soldiers found a 43-acre (17.4-hectare) marijuana farm in the northern border state of Chihuahua, the army said Sunday. The army said the fields were capable of producing about 11 tons (22,000 kilograms) of marijuana. The fields were found in a rural township not far from the town of Creel, in […]
18 hours ago
This image released by Polk & Co. shows Andrew Burnap in "The Inheritance." (Matthew Murphy/Polk & ...
Associated Press

Tonys Latest: Andrew Burnap wins best lead play actor honors

The Latest on the Tony Awards (all times local): ___ 8:35 p.m. Andrew Burnap has won the Tony for best lead actor in a play on his Broadway debut. Burnap starred in “The Inheritance,” Matthew Lopez’s two-part, seven-hour epic that uses “Howards End” as a starting point for a play that looks at gay life […]
18 hours ago
Supporters and relatives of the 43 missing university students hold placards with photos of their l...
Associated Press

Justice elusive 7 years after students abducted in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Several hundred students and political activists marched through downtown Mexico City on Sunday to demand authorities find out what happened to 43 teacher’s college students who disappeared in 2014. Police in the southern city of Iguala handed the students over to drug gang members, who purportedly killed them and burned their […]
18 hours ago
People pray during a vigil at the Collierville Town Hall, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Collierville, ...
Associated Press

6 improving at Tennessee hospital after grocery shooting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Six people wounded in a mass shooting at a Tennessee supermarket are no longer in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said Sunday. One person was in serious condition and five others were in good condition, Angie Golding, a spokeswoman for Regional One Health in Memphis, told news outlets. On Thursday, a […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
...
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
US military aid to Egypt released despite rights concerns