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On April 22, 2021, the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), along with 13 other human rights and civil society organizations, sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, urging the Biden administration not to use the national security waiver on the $300 million in Foreign Military Financing to Egypt for Fiscal Year 2020 that is conditioned on meeting several human rights standards.

Last month, the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices identified a litany of serious violations of human rights by Egyptian authorities. These include consistent attacks on the freedom of expression; violations of the rule of law; extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances; widespread use of arbitrary detention; and politically motivated reprisals against individuals located outside the country. In response to such abuses, since 2014 Congress has conditioned a portion of the $1.3 billion of annual military aid to Egypt.

Unable to certify improvements in Egypt’s abysmal human rights record, the two previous administrations have used a national security waiver provided by Congress each year to release the conditioned portion of military aid. By using the waiver, the United States signals that the Egyptian government will not be held accountable for its human rights abuses and that it can continue to violate human rights standards without consequence.

During his campaign for president, then-candidate Joe Biden promised “no more blank checks for Trump’s favorite dictator.” Overriding the human rights conditions would, on the contrary, continue the pattern of providing “blank checks” to the Egyptian government.

“This is a significant opportunity for the Biden administration,” said POMED’s Seth Binder. “By refusing to use the national security waiver on $300 million in military aid to Egypt, the administration can take the first step towards putting human rights at the center of the relationship.”

POMED joined with Amnesty International USACairo Institute for Human Rights StudiesCommittee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Egyptian Human Rights ForumEuroMed RightsFreedom HouseHuman Rights FirstHuman Rights WatchMENA Rights GroupPEN AmericaReporters Without Borders (RSF), and The Freedom Initiative to call on the Biden administration to send a clear message that it is serious about its commitment to supporting human rights abroad, that it will follow through on its promises, and that respect for human rights is inextricably linked to U.S. national security.  

Read the letter>>

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