US unfreezes military aid to Egypt

The Trump administration has decided to release $195 million in military aid to Egypt that had been frozen last year because of human rights concerns, the State Department announced July 25. The decision is intended to recognize "steps Egypt has taken over the last year in response to specific US concerns," the statement said. A high-level Egyptian military delegation had been in Washington for talks prior to the announcement. The funds, falling under Foreign Military Financing, are intended for Egypt to buy US-made military equipment. Human rights groups slammed the decision by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying he had squandered valuable leverage over President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at a time when his regime's rights record only seems to be worsening. "Repression is breeding resentment, and in some cases radicalization," said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First. "That will ultimately further destabilize Egypt and undermine American interests."

A recent Human Rights Watch report found that Egypt's security forces use "torture, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances to silence political dissent." The State Department's own latest human rights report, released in April (PDF), cites a wide range of abused in Egypt, including torture, limits on freedom of expression, government control over NGOs and the use of military courts to try civilians. (Middle East Eye, NYT)

Photo: Egyptian Streets