Amnesty: US should restrict military aid to Egypt or risk complicity in rights abuses

Amnesty International has said that waiving restrictions on US military assistance to Egypt risks America becoming complicit in human rights abuses.

The statement made by the advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa was in response to reported deliberations by the Biden administration to release $300 million of restricted military assistance to Egypt.

At the beginning of August, a video circulated showing the Egyptian military shooting a man at close range in a tent whilst he was asleep, and another showed an unarmed man being shot from above as he ran through the desert.

Amnesty said that the weapons used in the video were American-made and in light of the evidence that US-made arms are used to flout human rights abuses, has called on Washington to forgo the waiver and further halt arms sales.

There is currently an ongoing debate over why the US is continuing to give $1.3 billion of military aid to Egypt every year whilst the government in Cairo carries out serious human rights abuses.

Democrats Tom Malinowski and Adam Schiff have advocated cutting $75 million of military assistance to Egypt over the Sisi regime’s detention of political prisoners and the harassment of American citizens.

Senator Chris Murphy has also called on the Biden administration to withhold the waiver on $300 million as the Egyptian military focuses “more on internal repression than regional security” and is “in the midst of a dizzying crackdown on political dissent.”

Responding to reported deliberations by the Biden administration on invoking a national security waiver to release $300 million of restricted military assistance to Egypt, Philippe Nassif, the advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa said:

“Waiving the Congressionally-imposed restriction would provide a green light for President al-Sisi’s increasing crackdowns on Egyptians and further implicates the U.S. in abhorrent human rights abuses. Unconditionally backing Egypt’s security forces contradicts President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken’s stated commitments to center human rights.”

During his presidential campaign last year Biden promised there would be no more blank cheques for his predecessor, Donald Trump’s favorite dictator, but since then has announced a $200 million arms deal to Egypt and hosted Abbas Kamel, Egypt’s intelligence chief, who has overseen the torture of hundreds of political prisoners.

Amnesty International USA called on the Biden administration to forgo the waiver, and further halt arms sales due to the credible evidence confirming use of U.S.-provided arms in flagrant violations by security forces, including extrajudicial killings just weeks ago.

According to Amnesty, Egyptian prisons hold thousands of political prisoners, with dozens dying following denied medical care in 2020. The world’s third worst executioner, Egypt has executed dozens in 2021, and in June upheld the imminent executions of 12 men convicted via sham trial.

Life sentence for filming military base

An Egyptian court has recently sentenced 67 people to life imprisonment and nine others to 15 years imprisonment for filming an airbase.

The court also handed seven-year prison terms to 66 defendants and a 15-year term to another.

The court sentenced four juveniles to three years in jail and dropped the case against two others because they died prior to sentencing.

In 2018, an Egyptian court began the trial of 170 alleged Daesh elements on charges of killing the deputy of Faisal police station in Suez, placing an explosive device near a cinema, targeting army vehicles, the gas line at the Suez Petroleum Company, and a ship in the canal among other charges.

The indictment also included obtaining by illegal means one of the country’s defense secrets by taking photos using a mobile phone; in reference to Belbeis Air Base, in preparation for targeting it!