Suddenly, without any warning, the US administration has reduced its level of aid to Egypt and frozen part of it. This aid has been sent to Egypt every year since the peace treaty was signed with Israel in 1979, stopping only when Obama froze it for a few months following the 2013 military coup; payments then resumed fairly quickly. However, the aid has never been cut, as it has this time. The justification is that Egypt is continuing to violate the human rights of the Egyptian people.
The US also said that the aid was cut because Egypt has not committed to the international conventions regarding human rights, which were signed by the Egyptian government. It also noted that Cairo has restricted civil society activities due to the new law that limits the work of NGOs and human rights organisations. The employees of such organisations are viewed as suspect, traitors even, and are thus subjected to legal accountability on one hand and defamation in the community on the other.
The corrupt media in Egypt has launched a fierce campaign against such organisations and their founders. The security authorities have raided their offices, arrested some employees, and banned their directors from travelling overseas. The truth is that the human rights situation in Egypt has deteriorated badly. The number of forced disappearances has increased, as has the number of summary executions. Egypt is ranked second in the world in terms of the most human rights violations. Is this the real reason for the cut in US aid? I’m not so sure. America is angry, but what at?
There are reports in the international media regarding Egypt’s relations with North Korea which have really angered Washington, and that is why the aid has stopped. We do not know the exact nature of the relationship with Pyongyang and its limits, or whether President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi can actually take such a step when he knows full well that it will anger the Americans who put him in power, supported his coup against the elected president, and continue to support him despite his human rights crimes which began with the coup and include the massacres in Rabaa Al-Adawiyya and Al-Nahda Squares. However, no one condemned him for these crimes, as the human rights of Egyptians do not really concern the US president. He is only using them as an excuse to serve his own interests.
The disgraceful irony is that Egypt protested about the aid cut through its Foreign Ministry, and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry refused to host a US delegation which included Donald Trump’s son-in-law. A few hours later, though, Al-Sisi met the Americans himself. He tried to take a heroic and honourable stance through his Foreign Minister, who wouldn’t have dared to shun the US mission on his own initiative; he would have been ordered to do it by Al-Sisi himself.
However, Al-Sisi failed to make his point, and instead did the opposite; he demonstrated how weak he really is, and that he is subservient to the Americans. He was forced to meet with the delegation and apologise for his Foreign Minister’s action. This is Egypt under Al-Sisi’s rule; a weak and lowly country that does not even control its own destiny.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.