WASHINGTON D.C.: Military aid worth $130 million, out of a $300 million package intended for Egypt, will be withheld by the Biden administration until the government of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi improves its human rights record.
The decision overrides the policy of Secretary of State Antony Blinken's predecessors regarding military aid to Egypt. In the interest of U.S. national security, $300 million for this fiscal year was previously exempted from having to undergo checks by Congress.
"We are continuing to discuss our serious concerns about human rights in Egypt. Blinken will move forward with the use of $130 million if the Government of Egypt affirmatively addresses specific human-rights related conditions," a State Department spokesperson stated in an email, as quoted by Reuters.
However, human rights groups have expressed their disappointment at the decision and called on the administration to withhold the entire $300 million.
Sarah Leah Witson, executive director of advocacy group Democracy for the Arab World Now said, "What the Biden administration has really done is waive the minimal human rights conditions imposed by Congress on a fraction of U.S. aid, while keeping a small portion of $130 million blocked on even more watered down conditions," as quoted by Reuters.
A congressional research report noted U.S. foreign assistance worth some $1.3 billion has been provided to Egypt annually since the 2017 fiscal year.