World, Middle East

Egypt slams US decision to withhold aid

U.S. will not distribute $290 million in aid to Egypt over human rights concerns

Egypt slams US decision to withhold aid

By Mohamed Mahmud


Egypt on Wednesday criticized a U.S. decision to withhold millions of dollars in aid over human rights concerns.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry described the decision as reflecting "a poor judgment of the nature of strategic relations that tie the two countries over long decades".

The measure "lacks a deep understanding of the importance of supporting Egypt's stability and the nature of economic and security challenges facing the Egyptian people," it added.

Without elaborating, the ministry warned that the U.S. move could have "a negative impact" on the common Egyptian-U.S. interests.

A U.S. State Department official said Tuesday Washington will not distribute $290 million in aid to Egypt over human rights concerns.

The bulk of that sum -- $195 million in foreign military financing -- will be held in an account that can be accessed at any time, the official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

"These funds will be held in reserve until we see progress from Egypt on key priorities," the official said.

An additional $65.7 million in military aid and $30 million in economic aid will be reassigned to other key U.S. allies.

Driving the decision are Egypt's implementation of a controversial law restricting the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country and a lack of progress in human rights, according to the official.

The U.S. administration has to certify to Congress that Egypt is making progress on advancing human rights and democracy in order to disperse Egypt's annual $1.3 billion in military aid or seek a waiver on national security grounds.

Egypt is a vital U.S. ally, and Washington has provided the country with nearly $80 billion in military and economic aid over the past 30 years.

The country's peace agreement with Israel was a landmark development in the region, and Cairo's control of the Suez Canal is a major logistical asset. Egypt has become the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid after its peace deal with Israel.

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