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In Policy Reversal, US Withholds Aid to Egypt

In Policy Reversal, US Withholds Aid to Egypt

The US has chose to deny Egypt nearly $100 million in aid and hold back another $195 million until it sees improvements in Cairo's track record on human rights and democracy.

It also warned that withdrawing the aid could have "negative implications" on achieving mutual goals and interests.

The statement said that the decision reflects misjudgment about the strategic relations between the two countries. The law restricts the activities NGOs can carry out in the country-with jail time for those who do not follow the rules.

Tillerson's dual decisions reflect a hard balancing act that the administration is playing with Egypt. President Donald Trump has signaled his approval of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's tough stance against terrorism yet many members of the administration, including Tillerson, and numerous lawmakers harbor serious doubts about his rights record and commitment to democratic reform.

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However, the office of the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said he would meet the United States delegation led by Kushner later in the day. Over the past 30 years, Egypt has received $80 billion in aid from the United States.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also cancelled a meeting with Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law.

The Trump administration's move came after Sisi in June allowed a controversial law regulating NGOs law to go into effect despite earlier assurances it would not pass, angering USA officials.

Ordinary Egyptians were divided over the USA decision to curtail aid - many who opposed Sisi mocked the country's leader online while those in the pro-Sisi camp stoked nationalism, saying the country would not bow to U.S. demands in order to receive aid. But Egypt, according to Cairo media, said that the suspension of U.S. funding for Egypt could negatively affect relations between the two countries. The $195 million will be held in reserve until Egypt makes progress in those areas, the officials said. The Egyptian government has long accused human rights groups of taking foreign funds to sow chaos, and several are facing investigation over their funding. He insisted the restrictions would continue until Egypt showed "credible progress" towards democracy, but ended up restoring the military support in 2015 because it was "in the interest of USA national security".


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