Ten US Democratic senators call for withholding military aid to Egypt over human rights
A group of US Senate Democrats are urging the US to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Egypt due to the country's human rights record.
The 11 senators issued a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week detailing what they described as the Egyptian government's failure to improve its human rights practices.
"Ahead of presidential elections scheduled next year, the Egyptian government has detained supporters and family members of a challenger who intends to run against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The government has forced NGOs to register under a draconian law prohibiting any activities it deems political," the letter reads.
The letter details the targeting of civilians, including US permanent residents, using such methods as surveillance, threats and harassment, and even extraterritorial arrests.
In the letter, the senators point to a provision in the 2022 fiscal year State Department funding bill saying that up to US$320 million of the US$1.3 billion allocated for military aid to Egypt be withheld if Egypt fails to progress on its human rights record.
"An additional US$85 million of the FY22 FMF allocation is tied to the Egyptian government's 'clear and consistent progress' in releasing political prisoners, providing detainees with due process of law, and preventing the intimidation and harassment of American citizens," the letter reads.
The senators say that due to previous decisions to withhold funds, Egypt has improved its human rights practice. However, they insist that more pressure is needed to bring about more change.
The letter acknowledges the importance of the two countries mutual security interests in the region, including fighting extremism, and they say that this move would not hamper that relationship.
The letter is signed by ten high-profile Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Independent Bernie Sanders (who caucuses with the Democrats).