Senator Ben Cardin has urged the release of political prisoners held by President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi’s government
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s new chairman, Ben Cardin, has blocked some $235 million in military aid to Egypt, according to a statement he made on Tuesday.
He replaced Bob Menendez, who was himself accused of being involved in a bribery scheme with Egyptian government officials. Menendez is currently under investigation for corruption, but has denied the charges against him.
Cardin informed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the hold on funding “will persist until specific progress on human rights is made.”
“Egypt’s stability is in the US national interest, and that interest is best served when the Egyptian government is taking sustainable, concrete and meaningful steps to improve respect for the human rights of its citizens,” Cardin said. He said he feels that it’s crucial for the US to continue to hold the government of Egypt and all governments accountable for their human rights violations.
Cardin, who is a member of President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party, made a specific request for additional pardons for some of the estimated 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt.
Despite lingering concerns about human rights, the State Department approved $1.215 billion in military aid to Egypt last month.
Meanwhile, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi has announced his intention to run in the upcoming presidential election. If he wins, it will be his third term in office.
Speaking to RT on Wednesday, political analyst Said Sadek said the issue of human rights “isn’t really taken seriously” by the US. “When it comes to Arab countries, they [the US] want to cut aid, they want to impose sanctions, they don’t want to export arms,” he added.
The analyst stated that the US has strategic interests in Egypt because “a lot of security of the Red Sea and the Gulf happens in coordination between the Egyptian Navy and the American Navy.” He said Washington also “fears that if they [do] a total divorce with Egypt, it would push Egypt more towards China and Russia.”
October 05, 2023 at 04:30PM