Egypt Human Rights Caucus Co-Chairs’ Statement On Military Assistance To Egypt
Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), co-Chairs of Congress’ Egypt Human Rights Caucus, issued the following statement today:
“We are pleased that the Biden administration withheld $130 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to Egypt for the second consecutive year, sending a signal both to the Egyptian government and to other security assistance partners that the U.S. takes human rights seriously. For years, the Egyptian military has treated US assistance as an entitlement, and it does not serve America’s interests to reinforce that perception by repeatedly backing off of conditions that have sought to break this cycle.
“While we applaud the administration for this decision, we are concerned that they continue to disregard congressional intent, which undermines their efforts to promote a more stable and rights-respecting Egypt. Fiscal year 2021 was the first year that $75 million in FMF was conditioned on human rights concerns without a national security waiver. The decision to provide Egypt with this separate tranche was based on an administration assessment that Egypt has made progress on due process and the release of political prisoners. While it is true that Egypt has released some, Egyptian human rights groups documented the detention of more political prisoners during this time span and no progress on due process.
“The State Department’s 2021 human rights report cites independent assessments that the Egyptian government holds between 20,000 to 60,000 political prisoners—one of the highest rates in the world. A recent investigation by The New York Times affirmed these fears, writing that ‘Mr. el-Sisi’s predecessors also jailed critics. But he has done so on a vastly greater scale, largely by transforming the routine administrative procedure of pretrial detention into Egypt’s chief engine of mass repression…. In just the six months from September 2020 to February 2021, The Times estimates, about 4,500 people were trapped in pretrial detention.’
“The law requires that the Egyptian government make ‘clear and consistent progress in releasing political prisoners,’ a condition we do not believe can be credibly asserted. We urge the administration to continue to hold Egyptian officials accountable and to work with Congress to ensure U.S. taxpayer funds are used to advance U.S. interests, not bolstering human rights abusers.”