Statement – Biden’s Budget Request Continues “Blank Check” for Egypt
We, the undersigned organizations, write to express strong disappointment that the administration has requested $1.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Egypt for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. President Biden campaigned on “no more blank checks” for Egypt’s regime, but requesting the same amount the United States has provided annually since 1987 despite Egypt’s deteriorating human rights record is, effectively, another blank check. Doing so also undermines the administration’s stated commitment to put human rights at the center of the U.S.-Egypt relationship. We call on Congress to ignore the administration’s request and take meaningful steps towards rebalancing U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt away from the current lopsided provision of military aid.
Over the past four years, the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices have repeatedly documented gross violations of human rights committed by the Egyptian government, including extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, and prolonged pretrial detentions. Most recently, in March 2021, the United States joined 30 other countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council in expressing “[deep] concern about the trajectory of human rights in Egypt” and calling on the al-Sisi government to end its assault on press freedom and freedom of expression, ensure accountability for rights abuses, and constructively engage with the UN.
U.S. law prohibits security assistance to countries engaged in a consistent pattern of gross human rights violations that the State Department and UN have documented. By ignoring the law and continuing the decades-long tradition of requesting $1.3 billion in military aid, the administration continues a troubling ‘business as usual’ partnership in direct contradiction to the president’s promise.
We urge Congress to reduce the military assistance package for Egypt to $1 billion or less in FY22, while maintaining strong human rights conditions on at least 30 percent to send the clear message that the bilateral relationship with Egypt will be broadened beyond the current over-emphasis on military ties.
The Freedom Initiative
Amnesty International USA
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Human Rights Watch
Project on Middle East Democracy