August 30, 2017

Contact: April Brady, POMED Communications Coordinator
Phone: 202-804-4747

(Washington, D.C.) – The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) issued the following statement in response to reports that the Trump administration will reprogram or delay portions of U.S. economic and military aid to Egypt:

POMED welcomes the U.S. administration’s decision to reprogram $65.7 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and $30 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF) to Egypt in response to the Egyptian government’s failure to address longstanding U.S. human rights concerns, and to delay the delivery of an additional $195 million in military aid until Egypt makes progress on respecting human rights and democratic norms.

A stronger response to Egypt’s deteriorating human rights situation would have been for the administration to reprogram the entire $195 million in FMF because human rights-related conditions had not been met. In the Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations act, Congress required the administration to certify that Egypt had met these conditions or to waive them if deemed in the national security interest of the United States. The administration has chosen to use the waiver, but to leave the funds in Egypt’s FMF account pending “progress on democracy.” “Although this approach removes legislative deadlines and conditions from the funds,” says POMED’s Executive Director Stephen McInerney, “it does at least signal U.S. concern with Egypt’s repression and unwillingness to issue a blank check.”’

The legislation also requires Secretary of State Tillerson to submit to Congress – with the waiver – a report describing the insufficient progress by the Egyptian government toward meeting the human rights conditions. Although this report has not yet been made public, it should be an essential tool for assessing the many areas in which progress is needed.

The Trump administration should convey to the Egyptian government a clear timeline and specific steps that must be taken for the release of this military aid. Such steps should include revoking Egypt’s draconian NGO law, releasing all American citizens and legal permanent residents unjustly detained, and ending the assault on human rights groups – in particular, dropping Case 173 and exonerating the 43 NGO workers wrongly convicted under that case in 2013. Congress should also reinforce through all available tools the need for the Egyptian government to take such steps.

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Resources on Egypt Assistance:

Resources on Repression in Egypt:

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to examining how genuine democracies can develop in the Middle East and how the United States can best support that process. Through research, advocacy, and civil society partnerships we work to strengthen the constituency for U.S. policies that peacefully support democratic reform in the Middle East.