US cuts military aid for Egypt after arms sale
Egypt, Jan 29: The United States is canceling $130 million (€117 million) in military aid to Egypt over human rights concerns, the State Department said on Friday.
The announcement comes just days after US President Joe Biden's administration approved a $2.5 billion arms sale to Egypt on Tuesday. This included 12 Super Hercules C-130 transport aircraft and air defense radar systems.
What did the State Department say?
The State Department said Friday that Egypt had not met the conditions to receive the $130 million in foreign military financing that had been on hold since September.
In its announcement, the State Department made no mention of the $2.5 billion arms sale, which included military transport planes and radar systems.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved the release of $300 million in aid to Egypt, while withholding another $130 million unless the government addressed "specific human-rights related conditions" by the end of January.
"The deadline for meeting those conditions will soon pass,'' the State Department said.
"The (government of Egypt) made notable progress on the conditions but to date has not met them all. Therefore, after January 30, the secretary intends to reprogram the $130 million to other national security priorities.''
The AP news agency cited US officials as saying that the withheld military aid and the Tuesday arms sale are unrelated.
'Not much more than a slap on the wrist'
Sarah Holewinski, Washington director at Human Rights Watch, welcomed the decision to withhold military aid while expressing disappointment on the arms sale.
"This was the right decision," Holewinski said, referring to the withholding of military aid.
"Egypt's atrocious human rights record should leave no room for compromises from the US government."
Speaking on the $2.5 billion arms sale, she added that denying the $130 million was "not much more than a slap on the wrist given those handouts."
Egypt has in recent years engaged in a broad crackdown on dissent, jailing thousands of people.
The country imposed a state of emergency in April 2017, following deadly church bombings and attacks on Coptic Christians that killed more than 100 people. The state of emergency allowed for arrests without warrants, swift prosecution of suspects and the establishment of special courts.
The state of emergency expired in October 2021, and President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi announced that his government will no longer renew it.