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US Releases Military Aid to Egypt Despite Human Rights Concerns

Human Rights
Egypt’s Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhy welcomes U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis with an honor cordon at the Ministry of Defense on April 20, 2017, in Cairo, Egypt.

The United States has decided to release $195 million in military aid to Egypt after withholding the aid this past year over human rights concerns, the State Department announced Wednesday.

The department said their decision follows steps Egypt had taken in reaction to specific U.S. concerns, also it cited stronger U.S.-Egypt ties in security and counterterrorism while also acknowledging remaining aspects of concern about human rights and governance.

Independent monitoring groups have documented continued human rights abuses in Egypt over the past year.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch describes the problem in Egypt because the “worst human rights crisis in the nation in decades.” Egyptian police, the group said, systematically use “torture, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances to silence political dissent,” based on a newly released assessment.

Amnesty International reported an escalation in Egypt’s crackdown on civil society and pointed to routine “grossly unfair” trials of government critics, peaceful protesters, journalists and human rights defenders.

The suspension from the U.S. military help to Egypt in August 2017 came as a surprise because two allies had forged increasingly relationships under President Donald Trump.

In announcing the changes, the secretary of state then, Rex Tillerson, said he wasn’t able to certify that Egypt had met the human being rights criteria set by Congress as a way to obtain the American assistance. Egypt responded angrily and called that decision a “misjudgment in the nature of the strategic relations that have bound both countries for decades.”

Egypt long is a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, receiving nearly $80 billion in military and economic assistance within the last three decades.

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