The Biden administration informed Congress that it would withhold $85 million in aid to Egypt, which was conditional on Cairo’s progress in handling political prisoners, and instead divert that money to Taiwan and the Lebanon, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
The administration said it would redirect $55 million of that funding to Taiwan and $30 million to Lebanon, the sources said.
However, the administration will allow Cairo to access $235 million of a total $320 million in foreign military funding, conditioned on human rights issues, a senior State Department official said Thursday .
The United States provides more than $1 billion in foreign military funding to Egypt and the vast majority of this funding is unconditional.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken “determined that it was in the national security interests of the United States to waive certain human rights conditions” and authorize the sending of the 235 million dollars to Egypt.
“What I describe today reflects our current assessment that Egyptian cooperation merits a national security waiver for fiscal year 2022,” the official said.
“Our position on the very serious human rights situation in Egypt has absolutely not changed and we will continue to raise these issues in Egypt consistently and at the highest levels,” they added.
The conditions around the $85 million – “that Egypt makes clear and consistent progress in releasing political prisoners, providing detainees with due process, and preventing harassment of US citizens” – cannot be waived, he said. explained the manager.
“The secretary is determined that Egypt has not met its conditions and that is why we are reprogramming this 85 million,” the official said.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the redirection of funds.
Last month, a group of 11 Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to suspend all $320 million in conditional foreign military funding due to concerns about violations. of human rights in Cairo.
“We recognize the historic and deep-rooted bilateral relationship between the United States and Egypt, based on shared social, economic, and political ties,” wrote the lawmakers, led by the House Foreign Affairs Committee representative. representatives, Gregory Meeks.
“Nevertheless, we are gravely concerned by reports from the Department of State as well as numerous credible human rights and civil society organizations regarding persistent and ongoing systemic human rights violations in Egypt.” , the letter continues.
“As we continue to uphold the priority of fundamental human rights in our foreign policy and call on the administration to adhere to the spirit and letter of the law to ensure progress in the U.S.-US relationship, “Egypt, we call on you to refuse all $320 million from the FMF for FY22 until Egypt’s human rights record improves significantly,” he concludes.
Meanwhile, the administration is working to strengthen Taiwan’s defense capabilities in anticipation of a potential conflict with China and in July announced a new arms package for the self-ruled island worth up to $345 million.