US releases $195M in military aid to Egypt

State Department says recent steps Egypt has taken led to decision
WASHINGTON: The State Department on Wednesday said it has released $195 million in military funding to Egypt from fiscal year 2016 after suspending the payments last year for human rights concerns.
In announcing the decision, an official who wished to remain anonymous, said the agency still has rights concerns but Cairo has taken measures to improve its record.
“Recognizing steps Egypt has taken over the last year in response to specific U.S. concerns, and in the spirit of our efforts to further strengthen this partnership, the Administration has decided to allow Egypt to use the remaining $195 million in FY 2016 FMF for military procurements,” the official said in a statement emailed to Anadolu Agency, referring to foreign military funding.
The official maintained, however, that the U.S. “will continue to make clear the need for” Egypt to improve its rights record, particularly noting a 2013 law that restricts activities of nongovernmental agencies in Egypt.
The funds released Wednesday were frozen in August 2017 by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The decision soured relations with Cairo, which is a critical U.S. ally in the region, but was a boon to rights activists who have urged the U.S. to take such actions.
“How can the United States best support an important country and longtime regional ally when its government adopts policies that promise chronic instability?” Middle East expert Michelle Dunn said last April in a Congressional hearing on U.S. assistance to Egypt.
Despite the suspension of aid to the country last year, Egypt still received more than $1.3 billion from the U.S. in fiscal year 2017, the bulk of which was military funding.
The U.S. slashed military funding to Egypt in 2013 under then-President Barack Obama, citing rights concerns, particularly the brutal killings of protesters in the country.
The decision to release military aid comes after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement commemorating Egypt National Day on Monday.
“I look forward to further developing our multi-faceted relationship,” said Pompeo.–A

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