Biden officials voice support for US aid to Egypt amid human rights criticism

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The Biden administration expresses support for the security relationship between the United States and Egypt as Congress debates the restriction of funds due to concerns about human rights violations and the Egyptian government’s crackdown on Civil society.

Senior Defense Ministry and State Department officials on Tuesday stressed the importance of continued US security assistance to Egypt, even as the Biden administration worries about the Cairo aggression against human rights.

“The bottom line for President BidenJoe BidenTwo Florida School Districts Refuse To Let Students Step Out Of Mask Terms Senate Set To Pass Biparty Infrastructure Bill Tuesday On The Money: Key Elements of Democrats’ .5T Budget Resolution | Job vacancies hit record high for third consecutive month is that he values ​​the relationship with Egypt, he believes that it is an important security partner, ”said Dana Stroul, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, during a hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on the Middle East.

Mira Resnick, deputy under secretary for regional affairs in the office of politico-military affairs, said US officials have raised concerns about human rights in Egypt at the “highest level” of government, but have raised concerns about human rights in Egypt. stressed that Egypt is a “critical security partner. “

“The president himself has stressed the importance of a constructive human rights dialogue with the Egyptian government and we will continue to pursue it, even as we pursue common security objectives in maritime security, border security, anti-terrorism, ”she said. .

The administration underlines Egypt’s essential partnership on these fronts, its management of the Suez Canal as essential to ensure commercial and military maritime traffic, and its leadership in achieving a ceasefire between Israel and the United States. Hamas in the Gaza Strip to end the devastating fighting that took place in May.

But Democratic lawmakers are increasingly concerned about human rights abuses in Egypt as the Senate prepares to consider foreign policy spending bills, including the decision to fully fund $ 1.3 billion. dollars in security assistance to the Egyptian government.

Last month, the House passed its version of the annual foreign policy appropriation program fully funding the $ 1.3 billion in security assistance through 2023, despite calls from representatives. Tom malinowskiThomas (Tom) Malinowski House lawmakers push for diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics Kean Jr. against Malinowski: report The tool we need to expand COVID-19 vaccinations around the world MORE (DN.J.) and Adam schiffAdam Bennett SchiffOvernight Defense: Biden faces pressure from Democrats to downsize Guantánamo Bay House Democrats call on Biden to shut down Guantánamo “once and for all” Five Big Questions as Jan. 6 panel prepares subpoenas MORE (D-Calif.) To cut $ 75 million in aid to Egypt for its detention of as many as 60,000 political prisoners and criticism of the Sisi government for harassing American citizens.

Senator Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott Murphy’s COVID-19 caseGraham ‘breakthrough’ shakes Senate Democrats warn cutting Biden’s spending plan could backfire on Democrats to step up pressure for an infrastructure deal amid a backdrop of crisis PLUS (D-Conn.), Chairman of the Senate panel on the Middle East and a member of the Senate credit subcommittee on state and foreign operations, calls on the administration to withhold a waiver that provides $ 300 million in military aid that is used to override human rights concerns.

The senator criticized the Egyptian army on Tuesday as focusing “more on internal repression than on regional security”.

“It is a country that receives significant US aid, $ 1.3 billion a year, and in the midst of a dizzying crackdown on political dissent,” he said. He further raised the issue of the two-year imprisonment in Egypt of Egyptian-American human rights activist Mohamed Soltan, who was released in the United States in 2015, as an example of the heinous human rights violations committed by the government. government.

“They would throw sick prisoners into his cell – dying and sick prisoners, let them die there and let the corpse rest and rot inside his solitary cell as a way of trying to break it down,” he said. Murphy said. “This is the kind of behavior that we are empowering when we continue to send $ 1.3 billion to this plan.”

Federal law requires secretary of state to certify that the Egyptian government is taking “lasting and effective measures” to strengthen the rule of law, democratic institutions and respect for human rights in order to unlock $ 300 million dollars in foreign military funding.

But the secretary can bypass the certification by issuing a waiver stating that it is in the national security interests of the United States to fully fund military assistance. Former Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike Pompeo American detained in Russian prison released from solitary confinement. issued the waiver for Egypt in July 2020, a Congressional Democratic aide confirmed to The Hill, although he initially considered suspending the waiver following the death of a US citizen imprisoned in Egypt in January of the same year.

Secretary of State Antoine BlinkenAntony Blinken CIA Director to Meet with Israeli and Palestinian Leaders: The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by AT&T – Final countdown: Senate draws closer to final vote on infrastructure Taliban claim responsibility for deadly Kabul explosion MORE is expected to submit its decision to Congress on Egypt’s human rights record and the administration’s decision on whether to issue a waiver to allow the $ 300 million to continue, although the exact timeline is not yet known.

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