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US lifts suspension of US$195 million in military aid to Egypt
Egypt's General Intelligence Services Director Abbas Kamel in a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Department of State in Washington D.C on July 25, 2018 - Courtesy: US State Department
 

The United States government decided on Wednesday to release US$195 million in military aid to Egypt, which was suspended in 2017 over concerns regarding Egypt’s human rights record, the Associated Press reported.

In August of last year, the US decided to deny $95.7 million in grants and aid to Egypt, as well as to delay the disbursement of $195 million in military aid because of “Egypt’s failure to respect human rights and democratic norms,” according to sources in US President Donald Trump’s administration.

The US State Department stated that Wednesday’s decision to release the suspended aid “follows steps Egypt has taken” to strengthen bilateral relations and counterterrorism efforts, noting, however, that there are still “areas of concern about human rights and governance,” the AP report added.

A “high-level Egyptian military and security delegation” has been holding talks with Trump administration officials in Washington since last week, sources told Ahram Online earlier on Wednesday. The delegation is headed by the newly appointed General Intelligence Services (GIS) Director Abbas Kamel, sources confirmed to Mada Masr on Wednesday.

Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s assistant and special representative for international negotiations, stated on his Twitter account on Wednesday that he had met with Kamel, along with Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law. In the meeting, which Greenblatt described as a “pleasure,” the officials discussed the “strategic relationship between Egypt and the USA and the important leadership role Egypt is playing in connection with Gaza.”

Officials in Cairo appeared surprised by the US government’s decision to withhold aid last year, particularly following mutual statements of admiration between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Trump since the latter’s election in November 2016. Observers also noted the US’ history of waiving human rights conditions in its deliverance of military aid, in accordance with a clause in the US Foreign Assistance Act that permits the granting of aid in situations that impact US security interests.

At the time, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry expressed regret that the US had decided to reduce the agreed upon sum of aid to Egypt, “whether through the direct reduction of some components of the economic program, or postponing the disbursement of military aid.” The withholding of funds indicates a misunderstanding of the decades-long bilateral relationship between the two nations, the ministry added, and the “adoption of a path that does not accurately understand the importance of supporting Egypt’s stability, nor the nature of the economic and security challenges the Egyptian people face.”

The total amount of US aid received by Egypt between 1946 and 2013 amounts to over $73 billion, according to the US Congressional Research Office. The amount increased significantly after the signing of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty in 1979. Non-military economic aid has steadily decreased since the mid-1990s, reaching $150 million in 2015, while military aid stabilized at $1.3 billion during the same period.

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