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Biden holds back $130m military aid to Egypt until human rights progress is made

US President Joe Biden on September 13, 2021 [Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images]
US President Joe Biden on September 13, 2021 [Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

An official in the Biden administration has announced that the US is holding back some of the military aid it sends to Egypt over human rights concerns.

Of the $1.3 billion of military aid the US gives to Egypt every year, $300 million is conditioned on progress being made over human rights violations.

Politico reports that of this conditional $300 million, $130 million will be held back until Egypt stops prosecuting rights and civil society organisations in Case 173 and releases and drops charges against 16 people the US has asked it to since June.

The $170 million portion will be sent for counterterrorism, border security, and non-proliferation.

It is a step further than previous administrations where the secretary of state has overruled these conditions on the pretext of national security and sent the $300 million portion anyway.

However, rights advocates were hoping the US would send a bigger rebuke to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and have described the move as inadequate.

In Egypt, there are some 60,000 political prisoners who are systematically tortured, denied medical care whilst the use of the death penalty has skyrocketed.

READ: Sisi calls for international support to Egypt's mediation between Israel, Palestinians

Just this morning the family of detained activist Alaa Abdelfattah released an urgent statement suggesting he was suicidal because of the poor conditions and treatment he has received since being in jail.

In August Amnesty International said that waiving restrictions on military aid means the US risks becoming complicit in the human rights abuses and would give Al-Sisi a "green light" to continue his crackdowns.

Senator Chris Murphy has called on Biden to withhold all of the $300 million due to severe rights abuses amid a "dizzying crackdown on political dissent."

Democrats Tom Malinowski and Adam Schiff said that the US should cut $75 million over the detention of political prisoners and the harassment of American citizens.

Last month the Biden administration voiced support for the US and Egypt's security relationship and reiterated that security assistance to Egypt was important given Cairo's management of the Suez Canal and its role in the Hamas-Israel ceasefire in May.

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