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US senators call for withholding of military aid to Egypt over human rights record

Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre in Badr city, Egypt on January 16, 2022 [Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre in Badr city, Egypt. [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

A group of senators in the United States have urged the government to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Egypt, citing the country's increasingly poor human rights record.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week, 11 senators – including ten high-profile Democratic senators such as Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Tim Kaine, and the independent Bernie Sanders – highlighted the Egyptian government's failure to improve its human rights violations as a cause to withhold up to $320 million of the overall $1.3 billion allocated for military aid to the country if it continues to not address the issue.

The senators cited a provision in the 2022 fiscal year State Department funding bill as justification for that such a policy change, while insisting that Washington needs to apply more pressure on Cairo in order to bring about more change.

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"Ahead of presidential elections scheduled next year, the Egyptian government has detained supporters and family members of a challenger who intends to run against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The government has forced NGOs to register under a draconian law prohibiting any activities it deems political," the letter stated.

Since the military coup in Egypt and Sisi's rise to power in 2013, the new government has controlled elections, suppressed all forms of political expression opposing it, and arrested tens of thousands. Torture, mistreatment, and unfair trials also continue to be a common practice within Egypt's prison system.

The US senators acknowledged in the letter the importance of the American and Egyptian mutual security interests in the region, such as combating extremism, but said that the move to withhold some military aid would not hamper that relationship.

READ: Egypt citizen tortured to death after police shocked wife with stun gun

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