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Egypt, US discuss increasing military cooperation as experts call for withdrawing military aid

Egyptians security guard at the border between Egypt and Gaza Strip on 11 February 2017 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]
Egyptians security guard at the border between Egypt and Gaza Strip on 11 February 2017 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

The Egyptian and US military have discussed increasing military cooperation, according to a statement from the Egyptian Army.

The statement came after a meeting between Egyptian Defence Minister Mohamed Zaki and US Central Command Chief Kenneth McKenzie.

According to the state-run Al-Ahram the two militaries discussed Egypt’s efforts to secure peace and stability in the region.

News that Egypt and the US are increasing cooperation, rather than reducing it, will be concerning to the many people who have called on the US to leverage cooperation between the two countries on Egypt’s ability to abide by the rule of law.

The meeting comes not long after the release of dual citizen Mohamed Amashah brought renewed scrutiny on Egypt for its treatment of political prisoners and opposition activists.

After Amashah’s release Pompeo urged Egypt to stop harassing US citizens and their families. There has been mounting pressure in the US on Pompeo to break Washington’s deafening silence on Egypt’s human rights abuses.

READ: Thailand summons Egypt envoy after military crew member who broke quarantine tests positive for covid

Not long after Pompeo’s rebuke, US Democratic candidate Joe Biden wrote a widely shared post on Twitter promising no more “blank checks for Trump’s favourite dictator” and that “arresting, torturing and exiling activists” and “threatening their families” is unacceptable.

In 2019, at the G7 summit in France, Trump was overheard calling Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi his favourite dictator, which was met with outrage given Egypt’s human rights abuses.

The US is one of Egypt’s key allies, however, not everyone within the US administration is behind Trump in his support.

Whilst Trump himself has been silent in public about the vast scale of rights abuses, lawmakers in Congress pushed to cut hundreds of dollars of military aid to Egypt after Mustafa Kassem became the first US citizen to die in an Egyptian jail in January after he was denied urgent medical care.

A group of foreign policy experts recently asked the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to tell Egypt that military aid is at stake unless the regime stops its crackdown on activists, journalists and US citizens.

Contrary to what the Egyptian Army’s statement professes, that Egypt is making efforts to secure peace and stability in the region, the working group for Egypt under the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: “Continued mass violations of human rights increase the prospect of instability in Egypt and threaten US national security interests.”

Since 1980 the US has provided Egypt with $40 billion of military aid, and $1.3 billion a year.

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