After years of continuous support for Sisi and his regime from US President Trump, he awoke with his imminent departure, suddenly remembered the violations and abuses committed by General Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and his army.
Trump, who described Sisi as his favorite dictator and turned a blind eye to his human rights violations, decided to criticize foreign aid to Egypt, in what appeared to be a disavowal of Sisi before the US administration change.
Trump accused the Egyptian army of using American money to buy Russian weapons, which prompted him to wave against the new budget bill to revive the economy to confront the Corona pandemic. In a video clip on Twitter, Trump said that the bill they are now planning to send to my office is very different from what was expected. It is really a disgrace, he said. He added that Congress members had not even read the contents of the bill, which includes $ 85.5 million for aid to Cambodia, $ 134 million for Myanmar, and $ 1.3 billion for Egypt. Trump claimed that the amount directed to Egypt would be paid by the Egyptian army to buy almost exclusively Russian military equipment, as he put it.
The US Congress has passed the government spending budget bill for next year, including the usual military aid to Egypt, which amounts to about $ 1.3 billion. However, Congress linked the release of more than $ 300 million in funds allocated to Egypt with progress in releasing political prisoners, human rights defenders, and religious minorities. Trump’s statements sparked a wave of controversy and questions about the success of this in pressuring the Sisi regime to bring about an improvement in the human rights file and the detainees.
Many politicians greeted the statements with optimism about a balanced US stance towards Egypt and the Sisi regime, while others questioned the fate of the American aid provided to Egypt.
For his part, the Freedom Initiative website considered that US lawmakers sent a strong message to Al-Sisi’s regime: The systematic use of detention to silence activists and journalists does not serve America’s national security interests. Tweeters said that the decision could be a strong signal for the Egyptian regime to pay attention to the human rights file’s continuing violations. Richard Chazdy, a political science professor at George Washington University, said that linking Congress to a part of the aid provided to Egypt with the human rights file is a logical decision.
While Trump’s statements were met with widespread criticism from politicians and military experts close to the Sisi regime, who considered that the US President’s statements lacked credibility and objectivity. They indicated that Washington’s military aid to Egypt is used to buy American weapons and that it does not enter the Egyptian treasury in the first place, and this is one of the terms of the agreement. On the other hand, Twitter users saw that the US administration’s wave of aid to improve human rights conditions had been used before, but it returned to lift the aid restrictions after that, as happened in 2018.
The United States of America decided to reduce part of the aid provided to Egypt in August 2017 and said at the time that the reason was the lack of progress on the issue of human rights. In July 2018, US State Department officials announced lifting restrictions on military aid worth $ 195 million to Egypt from foreign military financing funds for the 2016 fiscal year, which had been frozen.
The recent decision from Congress and Trump’s accusations against the Egyptian army came a few days after decisions issued by the European Parliament to consider punishing the Sisi regime for its serious human rights violations. Politicians saw that the US decisions and statements do not mean anti-Sisi. But, the new administration could restore human rights issues, tie the regime’s hand, and prevent it from engaging in violations.
Al-Sisi’s regime was subjected to widespread criticism during 2020 from dozens of international human rights organizations, and despite this, the crackdowns and arrests of dissidents continued. Everyone expects more pressure on the Egyptian authorities to improve human rights conditions and release many detainees, especially with Trump’s imminent departure, one of Sisi’s strong supporters. US President-elect Joe Biden had stated that if he succeeds, there will be no more blank checks for Trump’s favorite dictator.