US to give Egypt $650 mn in cash, military aid

US to give Egypt $650 mn in cash, military aid
Thu Apr 24, 2014 18:17:37

Washington has announced plans to move forward with releasing $650 million in its foreign aid funding of Egypt’s military-installed government as part of continuing American efforts to ease its partial aid suspension to Cairo following the 2013 overthrow of elected president Mohamed Morsi and ensuing brutal crackdown on his supporters.

The Wednesday decision came a day after Washington’s announcement that it would deliver 10 Apache attack helicopters to Egypt in a bid to assist the military-led government in counter-terrorism operations in the border Sinai Peninsula, where the army is battling a surging militancy.

US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said unlocking the $650 million in financing for the fiscal year 2014 was the next step to "support these critical security efforts and continue to fund contracts for other goods and services."

The measure hinges on two congressional notifications that Egypt is sustaining the strategic relationship with the US and maintaining its obligations under the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, the spokesperson told a regular press briefing.

Psaki said the US administration would work on the congressional notification and approval "soon."

Egypt has been among the largest beneficiaries of US military and economic aid for decades pursuant to a 1979 peace treaty with Washington's arch ally, the Israeli regime.

In October of last year, Washington withheld from the Egyptian government deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopters and missiles, as well as $260 million in cash aid, pending “progress in democracy and human rights.”

However, US officials did not elaborate on what kind of “progress” the military-installed interim government in Cairo has made in terms of human rights and democracy.

The development comes as Egypt continues its brutal crackdown of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters and incited international anger after issuing a mass execution sentence for over 500 detainees allegedly linked to the group.

The release of the funds is merely for "limited purposes" that include counterterrorism, border security, and nonproliferation, Psaki claimed.

She said Washington, nevertheless, could release additional funds under these certifications.

"The 650 [million] is not the maximum that we’d be able to give under these certifications."

Separate congressional certifications will still be needed to unlock the frozen $1.5 billion in aid which will remain on hold until the US certifies that Egypt is progressing towards democratic governance.

Some "core steps" include "conducting free, fair, and transparent elections, easing restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and media," Psaki said.

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