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HRW: Biden administration made arms deals with 3 human rights abusers

July 22, 2021 at 10:34 am

US President Joe Biden departs after speaking in the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, 20 May 2021. [Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

The Biden administration is drawing up arms deals with at least three human rights abusers including Egypt, despite pledging to put human rights at the centre of its foreign policy, said Human Rights Watch’s advocacy officer in an op-ed for the Washington Post.

Earlier this year the US government drew huge criticism after approving the sale of $197 million worth of missiles to Egypt despite the government’s severe human rights abuses.

The arms sale was announced one day after cousins of former political prisoner and US citizen Mohamed Soltan were arrested.

On top of this, the US has continued to give Egypt $1.3 billion in annual military aid which has been the centre of a fierce debate among human rights activists who have asked why America is giving so much money to a country which has become one of the most repressive in the world.

In April, 14 human rights organisations signed a letter addressed to the US government demanding that it not use its security waiver to clear military aid to Egypt, as former presidents Obama and Trump had.

Biden’s stance has been particularly disappointing given that during his presidential campaign last year he promised there would be no more “blank cheques” for Trump’s ‘favourite dictator.’

READ: Egypt detains ex-editor of Al-Ahram newspaper on terrorism charges

“Arms sales and $1.3 billion in annual security assistance to Egypt are continuing despite years of deteriorating human rights conditions under President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi,” said Elisa Epstein, “from probable war crimes in a protracted military campaign in North Sinai, to thousands of dissidents arbitrarily detained, indefinitely held, and subjected to torture and other ill treatment.”

Epstein also pointed out that Egypt has “feigned pursuing accountability” for the systematic killings of at least 1,150 demonstrators in 2013 most of whom were killed during the Rabaa massacre.

The Biden administration has also proposed the sale of more than $2.5 million worth of arms to the Philippines, “less than two weeks after the International Criminal Court prosecutor sought approval to open a formal investigation into crimes against humanity related to the Philippines’ brutal “war on drugs”, says Epstein.

In addition to this the US government has approved $735 million worth of precision-guided weapons to Israel despite its recent bombardment on Gaza when it used precision-guided munitions to destroy homes.

“The US government cannot claim to promote human rights while selling advanced weapons to rights-abusing governments,” wrote Epstein. “It not only undermines Biden’s credibility, but also undermines respect for human rights across the globe.”