The U.S. State Department Tuesday’s approval of a massive $2.5 billion arms sale for Egypt was approved by the Biden administration. withhold a far smaller sum of military aid — $130 million — over expressed concerns about human rights abuses by the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a disconnect that critics said makes a mockery of U.S. leaders’ rhetoric.
The 11th anniversary of 2011 Egyptian revolution saw the authorization for the weapons sale. This includes 12 Super Hercules C-130 transport airplanes and $355 million worth Systems for air defense radar.
“Nothing says ‘the U.S. doesn’t care about your government’s oppression’ quite like announcing $2.5 billion in arms sales to Egypt on the anniversary of the January 25 Revolution,” Ben Freeman, a research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote In response to the news.
Andrew Stroehlein (European Media Director for Human Rights Watch), said the Biden administration is “encouraging and assisting Egypt’s torturers” by moving to funnel more arms to the authoritarian al-Sisi regime.
The State Department announced two new arms deals with Egypt worth more than $2.5B. This was the same day Congress called on the Biden administration for $130 million in military aid to be reprogrammed from Egypt for not meeting human rights conditions. https://t.co/N15y0mqdxs
— Seth Binder (@seth_binder) January 25, 2022
As of September, Common Dreams reported, Biden administration officials announced their decision to provide Egypt with $170 million in military aid while withholding $130 million until the regime meets certain “human rights criteria,” including ending its crackdown on political dissidents, activists. Egypt was given a January 30, 2022 deadline to comply with the administration’s conditions.
“If human rights were truly the center of our foreign policy, we wouldn’t be selling nearly $1.2 billion in weapons to one of the worst human rights abusers in the world,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted At the time, he was referring to earlier U.S. arm agreements with Egypt.
During a press briefing Tuesday, Associated Press Matt Lee, reporter, challenged Ned Price, State Department spokesperson, on the apparent incoherence between withholding $130,000,000 on human rights grounds and allowing massive sale of high tech weaponry to the brutal regime.
“What is the point of holding — withholding — $130 million in foreign military financing when you’re just going to turn around and sell them $2.5 billion in weapons?” Lee asked.
Price dodged the question, telling Lee that “if we have anything to add on that… we’ll let you know.”
Earlier Tuesday, Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) — co-chairs of Congress’ Egypt Human Rights Caucus — issued a statement urging the Biden administration not to release the $130 million in military aid, warning that the al-Sisi government “has continued to engage in widespread torture, suppression of dissent, and even persecution of American citizens and the families of critics living in the United States.”
“Holding firm on the conditions,” the lawmakers added, “would be consistent with President Biden’s campaign commitment of ‘[n]o more blank checks’ for the Egyptian military regime.”