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Amnesty: US waiving restrictions on military aid to Egypt puts it at risk of complicity in rights abuses

August 24, 2021 at 11:58 am

Image of an Amnesty International rally, 28 July 2017 [Richard Potts/Flickr]

Amnesty International has said that waiving restrictions on US military assistance to Egypt risks America becoming complicit in human rights abuses.

The statement made by the advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa was in response to reported deliberations by the Biden administration to release $300 million of restricted military assistance to Egypt.

“Waiving the congressionally-imposed restriction would provide a green light for President Sisi’s increasing crackdowns on Egyptians and further implicates the US in abhorrent human rights abuses,” said Phillipe Nassif.

“Unconditionally backing Egypt’s security forces contradicts President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken’s stated commitments to centre human rights.”

At the beginning of August, a video circulated showing the Egyptian military shooting a man at close range in a tent whilst he was asleep and another showed an unarmed man being shot from above as he ran through the desert.

READ: Jail for life after filming Egypt military base

Amnesty said that the weapons used in the video were American-made and in light of the evidence that US-made arms are used to flout human rights abuses, has called on Washington to forgo the waiver and further halt arms sales.

There is currently an ongoing debate over why the US is continuing to give $1.3 billion of military aid to Egypt every year whilst the government in Cairo carries out serious human rights abuses.

Democrats Tom Malinowski and Adam Schiff have advocated cutting $75 million of military assistance to Egypt over the Sisi regime’s detention of political prisoners and the harassment of American citizens.

Senator Chris Murphy has also called on the Biden administration to withhold the waiver on $300 million as the Egyptian military focuses “more on internal repression than regional security” and is “in the midst of a dizzying crackdown on political dissent.”

During his presidential campaign last year Biden promised there would be no more blank cheques for his predecessor, Donald Trump’s favourite dictator, but since then has announced a $200 million arms deal to Egypt and hosted Abbas Kamel, Egypt’s intelligence chief, who has overseen the torture of hundreds of political prisoners.