Since overthrowing Egypt’s democratically elected president in 2013, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has built the most repressive Egyptian state in modern history. His regime has engaged in a systematic pattern of gross human rights violations, from gunning down peaceful protesters in the streets to jailing tens of thousands of political opponents, severely restricting the ability of independent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to operate, all but eliminating a free and independent press, and perpetuating tensions between Muslims and Christians.
Egypt’s military relies heavily on U.S. security assistance, but instead of using U.S. assistance to develop the military’s capabilities and advance shared national security interests, the Egyptian government has misused the aid for patronage and prestige.
In a new report jointly published by POMED and the Center for International Policy (CIP), “U.S. Security Assistance to Egypt: Examining the Return on Investment,” coauthors Seth Binder of POMED and William D. Hartung of CIP call for a revamp of U.S. security assistance to Egypt—including a reduction in U.S. military aid.
Preview of Key Recommendations
- Cut military aid by $300 million per year
A significant reduction in military aid will signal to the Egyptians that U.S. assistance is not an entitlement, but rather is dependent on their conduct. The $300 million should be repurposed as humanitarian assistance for the global effort to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Remove the national security waiver that allows circumvention of human rights conditions
Conditions on U.S. security assistance should continue to push for an end to torture in Egypt’s prison system; easing of restrictions on journalists, human rights defenders, and other NGOs; and an end to the killing, torture, and displacement of civilians in the anti-terror campaign in northern Sinai.
- Increase transparency for how U.S. aid is used
To guard against corruption, journalists and U.S. officials must be allowed access to northern Sinai so that they may monitor the actions of the Egyptian military and provide a clear accounting of how U.S. funds are being spent.
- Restrict U.S. aid for sustainment to Egypt’s most urgent security challenges
The Egyptian government continues to use U.S. assistance to maintain patronage networks rather than to address legitimate security threats. The United States should restrict the use of funds for sustaining existing stockpiles to purposes of antiterrorism and border, maritime, and Sinai security.
Table of Contents
- The U.S. Role in Building Up the Egyptian Military
- Does U.S. Assistance Match Egypt’s Security Needs?
- Have U.S. Arms and Training Contributed to Effective Counterterror Operations in Egypt?
- U.S. (Lack of) Access and Influence
- The Role of Corruption in Undermining Effectiveness of U.S. Military Assistance
- U.S. Policy and Congressional Action: Has Conditionality Worked?
- Appendix 1: Arms Sales Offers to Egypt, 2009 to Present
- Appendix 2: U.S. Military Training for Egypt’s Military, 2009 to 2018
Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Michael Battles/U.S. Air Force