A number of major human rights groups have called on US President Joe Biden to halt military aid to Egypas long as it keeps violating the human rights of its citizens.
In a latter penned to Biden’s top aides, the group of 14 organizations warned Washington against issuing a waiver that would uphold what they called Donald Trump’s “blank check” to Cairo.
“We write to strongly urge the 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,” read the letter.
The groups include Amnesty International USA, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and Human Rights Watch.
Last year, Biden blasted Trump for writing out “blank checks” to Egypt’s strongman leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whom he referred to as Trump’s “favorite dictator.”
The US congress has been withholding parts of the $1.3bn military aid to Egypt over human rights concerns but both Trump, and his predecessor Barack Obama, had issued national security waivers to bypass those restrictions.
“This is a genuine opportunity for the administration to put human rights at the center of the relationship,” the groups wrote.
In one of its first annual reports, earlier this month Biden’s own state department documented extensive human rights abuses such as arbitrary killings, forced disappearance and torture.
The report also recorded “serious restrictions on free expression” and “substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.”
Sisi has ruled with an iron fist since toppling Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president in a military coup in 2013.
His government has outlawed virtually all forms of political opposition, jailing dissidents by the thousands. In some cases, even US citizens and their family members have been thrown into into jail.
The Biden administration has already shown signs of leniency towards Cairo by authorizing a $197 million arms sale.
“By refusing to waive these conditions, the United States will 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 US national security,” the rights groups said Thursday.