We applaud the decision made by Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Chairman Ben Cardin, House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Ranking Member Gregory Meeks, and the other members of Congress who expressed support, to place a hold on the remaining $235 million in military aid to Egypt for Fiscal Year 2022 conditioned on human rights progress that the Biden administration had approved earlier this month for release.
This is welcome and urgently needed news, especially in light of allegations that the former SFRC chair, Senator Bob Menendez, facilitated military aid and shared sensitive information on U.S. embassy employees with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s authoritarian government in exchange for personal financial gain.
This decision is a needed first step both to hold the Egyptian regime accountable for its egregious human rights violations and to maintain public faith in Congress. This hold, and its support within Congress, loudly declares that U.S. lawmakers will not allow any foreign government—especially a supposed strategic partner of the United States—to compromise the integrity of the country’s democratic institutions. And it advances the shared interests of the Egyptian and American people to press for the upholding of human rights in Egypt.
We recognize and thank Chairman Cardin and Ranking Member Meeks for acting quickly at a sensitive political moment to uphold U.S. principles and Congress’s central role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. We also strongly support Chairman Cardin’s commitment to block future military funds and arms sales to Egypt’s government “if it does not take concrete, meaningful, and sustainable steps to improve human rights.” Given the scope of both the al-Sisi regime’s human rights violations and the shocking allegations made against a sitting senator, we believe that this move must be the beginning, and not the end, of bringing real accountability to the bilateral relationship.
The Biden administration should seize this opportunity to demonstrate to the people in Egypt and around the world that human rights can be at the center of U.S. foreign policy.
Belady-An Island For Humanity (BIH)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
Center for International Policy
Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR)
Egyptian Human Rights Forum (EHRF)
EgyptWide for Human Rights
Foreign Policy for America
The Freedom Initiative
Human Rights Watch
Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
The Tahrir Institute For Middle East Policy (TIMEP)
Win Without War