WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to a recent announcement by the White House that the United States’ aid relationship with Egypt will undergo a significant and much-needed transformation in the coming years, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) acknowledges the necessity of the administration’s decision to overhaul its aid relationship with Egypt in a way that more appropriately focuses on security and terrorism. At the same time, the decision to release military aid and defense articles should not overshadow urgent concerns about Egypt’s ongoing human rights abuses and the need for fundamental democratic reforms.
In a statement released by the National Security Council (NSC) on Tuesday, it was announced that the United States will end Egypt’s use of “cash flow financing” beginning in fiscal year 2018, and will begin to direct military aid for Egypt toward equipment used for counterterrorism and security purposes. Cash flow financing has allowed Egypt to pay for expensive defense articles on credit, rather than up front, thereby enabling it to invest in large-scale defense items that are not necessarily well-suited for counterterrorism efforts. These changes signal an effort by the White House to pivot toward a relationship with Egypt that more closely reflects both countries’ shared interests in maintaining local and regional stability and addressing legitimate terrorism threats.
In addition to these major changes in the U.S.-Egypt aid relationship, the NSC also announced its intention to release military assistance to Egypt without certifying the many conditions placed on that aid by Congress, including requirements that Egypt hold parliamentary elections and undertake meaningful human rights reforms. The White House also announced plans to deliver several defense articles to Egypt—including 20 Harpoon missiles, 12 F-16s, and up to 125 M1A1 Abrams tanks—whose shipment has been on hold since the overthrow of former President Muhammad Morsi in 2013.
TIMEP recognizes the need to support Egypt’s efforts to address security threats within its borders. According to TIMEP’s research, terrorist violence in Egypt has increased significantly over the past four years; in the first two months of 2015 alone, Egypt saw more terror attacks per month compared with any other period on record. All appropriate measures should be established to ensure that any assistance provided for security or counterterrorism purposes to Egypt will not be used irresponsibly or for illegitimate purposes. Just as importantly, the release of aid should not stop persistent demands for Egypt to reform its human rights practices and implement the democratic reforms for which so many Egyptians have risked—and lost—their lives.
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The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of democratic transitions in the Middle East through analysis, advocacy, and action