Washington says release of military aid not endorsement of Cairo's human rights record

Ahram Online , Tuesday 14 Apr 2015

US says its decision to lift a partial suspension of military aid to Egypt comes despite concerns over human rights in the North African country

Marie Harf
US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf (Photo: AP)

Washington has said that a recent decision by President Barack Obama's administration to lift its hold on military aid to Egypt is not an endorsement of the country’s approach to domestic dissent.

The White House said late in March that President Obama was ending a freeze on its supply of military equipment to Egypt in efforts to support the interests of the US and bolster Cairo's ability to counter the extremist threat in the region.

The funds were frozen for 21 months following the ouster of elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in mid-2013 and an ensuing harsh crackdown by the new authorities on his supporters. 

Washington had said throughout that the partial suspension of aid would remain on hold until it had certified advances by Egypt's government on democracy, and Egypt continued however to receive hundreds of millions in economic and counterterrorism assistance. 

But the US state department on Monday reaffirmed that freeing up the military equipment was not meant to be an acknowledgement that Egypt is taking sufficient steps towards democratic reforms.

"The recent decision regarding military assistance to Egypt neither... suggests that the human rights situation in Egypt has not improved nor represents some sort of endorsement of the Government of Egypt’s approach to domestic dissent," US State Department Marie Harf told a regular press briefing.

Harf said the release came in the face of growing security threats to the North African country including the expansion of the ultra-hardline Islamic State group, which has seized large territories in Syria and Iraq.

"We still have concerns about the human rights situation," she added.

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