CAIRO (Dispatches) – The decision by U.S. President Joe Biden to renew security aid to Egypt has provoked anger from rights groups, who have said that conditions attached to the donations do not go far enough in addressing the Egyptian government’s abuses.
In a statement on Monday, U.S. officials said new conditions would affect a share of the $1.3bn in American aid that is sent to Egypt each year.
After what was described in the Washington Post as “lengthy deliberations”, U.S. State Department officials and congressional aides said the government would be providing $170m to Egypt for counterterrorism, border security and nonproliferation.
They said an additional $130m would be provided, on condition that the Egyptian government end its harassment and repression of human rights organizations in the country and drop charges against or release 16 individuals who the U.S. government had highlighted in discussion with Egypt since June.
“If they complete the human rights criteria that we laid out for the Egyptians, they also get the $130m,” said one official, speaking to the Washington Post.
In a statement on Monday, a number of groups - including the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), MENA Rights Group and the Egyptian Human Rights Forum - said the news was “dismaying” and called for more to be done.
“If the administration’s dedication to human rights were sincere, this decision would have been simple: withhold the $300 million in military aid as conditioned by Congress to incentivize Sisi to change course,” read the statement.
“Instead, the administration chose to ignore its commitment to human rights by evading the legislative conditions through a vague, previously unused provision in the law.”
In the latest development, photos circulating of Aisha al-Shater, the daughter of a Muslim Brotherhood leader, have sparked concerns about her health among activists online.
According to local media, Shater appeared in court this week looking pale and unwell, leading many social media users to draw comparisons and highlight how she looked before her arrest.
Shater, a human rights activist who was involved in activities to support the families of political prisoners, was arrested in November 2018 in a wave of arrests that targeted around 40 human rights workers in Cairo.
Shater is one of at least 60,000 political prisoners detained since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in 2013 after leading a coup against his predecessor Mohamed Morsi, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood.