US suspends Egyptian military aid for rights after huge arms sale – KLBK | KAMC

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration announced on Friday that it was canceling $130 million in military aid to Egypt on human rights grounds. The announcement comes just days after the administration approved a massive $2.5 billion arms sale to the country.

The State Department said Friday that Egypt had not met the conditions to receive the $130 million in foreign military funding suspended since September. He said the money would be transferred to other programs. He did not specify.

In announcing the cancellation, the department made no mention of the $2.5 billion sale of military transport planes and radar systems it had approved on Tuesday with no mention of the frozen $130 million.

In September, Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved the release of $300 million in foreign military funding to Egypt, but withheld an additional $130 million unless the government addressed “specific conditions related to human rights” by the end of January.

“The deadline for fulfilling these conditions will soon pass,” the ministry said. “The (Egyptian government) has made notable progress on the conditions, but to date has not met all of them. Therefore, after January 30, the Secretary intends to reprogram the $130 million to other national security priorities.

Asked about the apparent inconsistency, US officials said the military aid and arms sales were unrelated. They say Egypt will bear the cost of the $2.2 billion purchase of the 12 C-130 Super Hercules transport planes and air defense radar systems worth an estimated $355 million.

Congressional Democrats who had urged Blinken not to approve the $130 million were pleased with Friday’s decision, but did not address the arms sale that dwarfs the amount of aid withheld.

“I’m glad the Biden administration toed the line by reprogramming these funds,” said Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut. “It sends the important message overseas that we will back our commitment to human rights with action and that the days of dictators receiving blank checks from America are over.”

On Tuesday, the State Department announced the $2.5 billion arms sale, saying it would “support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a great country. non-NATO ally that continues to be an important strategic partner”. in the Middle-East.”

“We maintain that our bilateral relationship with Egypt will be stronger and that U.S. interests will be better served, thanks to the United States’ continued commitment to advancing our national security interests, including addressing our concerns in human rights,” the department said.

The Egyptian government has carried out a large-scale crackdown on dissent in recent years, jailing thousands of people, mostly Islamists but also secular activists involved in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that toppled the longtime autocrat of country, Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt imposed a state of emergency in April 2017, following deadly bombings on churches and attacks on Coptic Christians that left more than 100 people dead and dozens injured. It allowed arrests without warrants, rapid prosecution of suspects and the creation of special courts.

The state of emergency has since been extended several times. However, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi announced in October, when the last extension expired, that his government would no longer renew it.

Martin E. Berry