clearn.png
Friday July 19th, 2019 6:25AM

Egypt angered by US aid cut over human rights concerns

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt reacted angrily Wednesday to the Trump administration's decision to cut or delay nearly $300 million in military and economic aid over human rights concerns, a surprise move given the increasingly close ties that have bound the two allies since President Donald Trump took office in January.

Hours after the U.S. announcement, Trump's Middle East envoy, son-in-law Jared Kushner, arrived in Egypt as part of a Middle East tour to try to revive Arab-Israeli peace talks. He met with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and later conferred with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry before leaving for Israel.

In a statement, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Cairo regretted the U.S. decision, calling it a "misjudgment of the nature of the strategic relations that have bound the two countries for decades." The move, it said, "reflects a lack of careful understanding of the importance of supporting the stability and success of Egypt, as well as the size and nature of the security and economic challenges faced by the Egyptian people."

It warned that the cuts may have "negative consequences for the realization of common U.S.-Egyptian interests." It did not elaborate.

However, an Egyptian presidential statement on Kushner's meeting with el-Sissi made no mention of the aid cuts and delays, which totaled $290.7 million. El-Sissi, a general-turned-president who has repeatedly stated his admiration for Trump, showed none of the frustration expressed by the Foreign Ministry as he smiled while posing for a ceremonial photo with Kushner in the Egyptian leader's opulent Cairo palace.

El-Sissi spoke to Kushner and his delegation about "Egypt's keenness to continue to work on strengthening the multi-faceted relations that bind the two countries in various fields," the statement said.

Of the $290.7 million, $195 million was military aid that the State Department said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was not able to certify that Egypt had met the human rights criteria set by Congress in order to receive it. But because Tillerson signed a so-called national interest waiver, those funds will remain available to Egypt as long as it makes human rights improvements. Had Tillerson not signed the waiver, the money would have been returned to the Treasury by Sept. 30 — the end of the current fiscal year.

The remainder — $95.7 million in economic and military assistance— was cut from the Egypt account. Most of it had been held in escrow since 2014 as a result of the new aid conditions Congress set after el-Sissi's 2013 ouster of Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president. Of that, $65.7 million was foreign military financing and $30 million so-called "economic support funds," basically a cash payment to the government. These funds will now go instead to "key security partners, without undermining Egypt's security," according to the State Department.

In announcing the changes, the Trump administration cited Egypt's poor human rights record and its crackdown on civic and other non-governmental groups.

Prominent rights lawyer Gamal Eid said U.S. demands for Egypt to improve its rights record were "legitimate" given what he said was a surge in violations.

"The government must now convince its American friends that what it's doing in the field of human rights serves democracy and stability," Eid said. "It's in a bind and anything it does now will be seen as a means to secure U.S. aid."

Egypt is among the top recipients of U.S. military and economic assistance, receiving nearly $1.5 billion annually. The $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic aid is linked to Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel, and underpins a U.S.-Egyptian security relationship that is now mostly aimed at fighting terrorism.

As defense minister, el-Sissi led the military's 2013 ouster of Morsi, an Islamist whose year in office proved divisive. El-Sissi won a presidential election a year later, and has overseen a crackdown on civil society, particularly rights and pro-democracy groups. These groups were instrumental in the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, but are presented by the media now as part of a foreign conspiracy against Egypt.

As part of the crackdown, authorities have detained tens of thousands, most of them Islamist supporters of Morsi, but a number of prominent liberal and secular activists have also been jailed. Critics say the government is trampling on the country's 2014 constitution, possibly the most progressive in Egypt's history.

Egypt maintains that reviving an ailing economy, fighting Islamic militants and creating jobs top its priorities.

Trump made no public mention of human rights when he warmly welcomed el-Sissi to the White House in April, an omission that many took as a sign that the issue was not a priority for the administration. But two months later, two Republican senators slammed as "draconian" a new Egyptian law that effectively bans the work of non-governmental organizations and urged its repeal.

The law, fiercely defended by Egypt, sparked an international backlash and is believed to be the main cause for Washington's move to cut and delay aid.

"I believe the American decision was expected after Egypt adopted the NGO law," said rights campaigner Khaled el-Balshy. "It's an important but symbolic move, which will likely not lead to positive actions from the Egyptian government."

___

Lee reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper in Washington and Menna Zaki in Cairo contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Egypt angered by US aid cut over human rights concerns
Egypt has reacted angrily to the U.S. decision to cut or delay nearly $300 million in military and economic aid over concerns about Cairo's human rights record, a surprise decision given the countries' close ties since President Donald Trump took office
4:19PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Judge: Bears near US-Canada border merit endangered status
A judge has ruled that grizzly bears in Montana and Idaho near the Canadian border can be considered endangered even if they are not on the brink of extinction
4:11PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Girl Scouts accuse Boy Scouts of covertly recruiting girls
The president of the Girl Scouts of the USA is accusing the Boy Scouts of seeking to covertly recruit girls into their programs while disparaging the Girl Scouts' operations
4:01PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Study: 50M at risk of arsenic poisoning in Pakistan
A new study suggests some 50 million Pakistanis could be at risk of drinking arsenic-tainted groundwater
2:13PM ( 2 hours ago )
Angola votes for 1st new president in nearly 4 decades
Angola votes for 1st new president in nearly 4 decades as dos Santos stepping aside
1:41PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Imam linked to Spain attacks served prison time
Justice officials in Spain say the imam who allegedly headed the 12-man cell that killed 15 people won an appeal for showing good behavior against an expulsion order handed down in 2015 after he served time in prison for drug trafficking
1:01PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP World News
Whole Foods shareholders say yes to Amazon deal
Whole Foods shareholders say yes to Amazon's $13.7 billion takeover bid of the organic grocer
3:09PM ( 1 hour ago )
Groups make last-minute push to save national monument areas
Conservation groups are airing TV ads and creating parody websites in a last-minute blitz to stop Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke from downsizing or eliminating national monument areas that cover large swaths of land and water in the nation
2:53PM ( 1 hour ago )
Players hold breath as $700M Powerball jackpot drawing nears
Lottery players will have a shot at a $700 million Powerball jackpot that ranks as the second largest in U.S. history
2:40PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
US new-home sales fell in July, yet still ahead of last year
US new home sales fell in July yet remain comfortably ahead of last year's pace
10:31AM ( 5 hours ago )
Egypt snubs Trump envoy after US cuts, delays aid
Egypt's Foreign Ministry has abruptly cancelled a meeting with White House adviser Jared Kushner after the Trump administration cut or delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid over human rights concerns
9:51AM ( 6 hours ago )
Eurozone recovery ongoing as focus turns to Jackson Hole
A closely watched survey is showing that the eurozone economy is on course for another solid quarter of economic growth during the third quarter with exports holding up despite the rise in the value of the euro
9:07AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Judge: Bears near US-Canada border merit endangered status
A judge has ruled that grizzly bears in Montana and Idaho near the Canadian border can be considered endangered even if they are not on the brink of extinction
4:11PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Girl Scouts accuse Boy Scouts of covertly recruiting girls
The president of the Girl Scouts of the USA is accusing the Boy Scouts of seeking to covertly recruit girls into their programs while disparaging the Girl Scouts' operations
4:01PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Former officer injects new racial element in 2014 slaying
White former officer injects new racial element in slaying of daughter's black boyfriend
3:57PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Rock band Allah-Las' Rotterdam show cancelled due to threat
A concert in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam by American rock group Allah-Las was cancelled Wednesday night because of a "terror threat," police said in a statement
3:56PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Swedish journalist's torso found in submarine death mystery
Danish police say a headless torso found on a beach off Copenhagen has been identified as that of missing Swedish journalist Kim Wall
3:41PM ( 42 minutes ago )