For Immediate Release: September 18, 2012
Washington, DC – Amidst reports that recent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo may stall millions of dollars in U.S. aid to Egypt, Human Rights First is urging the Obama Administration and Congress to make clear that continuing assistance to this key U.S. ally will be tied to progress towards a democratic transition. At issue is a proposed $1 billion in debt relief and hundreds of millions more in other aid to Egypt, as well as U.S. support for multilateral financial support for Egypt from the IMF.
“Talk of suspending aid now sends the wrong message to Egyptians who need to know that, if they move forward with their democratic transition, the United States and the international community will support them,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “Egypt is more democratic now than it has been for decades, but that transition won’t last if the nation’s economy collapses.”
“At this pivotal moment, the United States government needs to both send the message that it is continuing to stand ready to provide the Egyptian government with the economic assistance it desperately needs while also making clear that foreign assistance is inextricably tied to democratic reform,” he continued. “It should emphasize that this is not because this is some capricious condition dreamt up by ill-intentioned western policy makers, but rather because it is a time-tested strategy that enshrining the rule of law, empowering representative, accountable government and strengthening legal safeguards for basic rights and freedoms are the only ways to meet the legitimate aspirations of the millions of people in Egypt and beyond for human dignity.”
Hicks notes that high-handed threats to withhold aid to Egypt has the potential to create a backlash from Egyptians of all backgrounds who are understandably concerned about foreign interference in their domestic affairs. Instead, he urges American leaders to remain in dialogue with newly elected President Mohamed Morsi and his government. Morsi is scheduled to visit the United States in the coming days for the U.N. General Assembly. Senior U.S. policy makers who meet with President Morsi should use the opportunity to stress that the more Egypt makes progress in human rights and the rule of law the more support it will enjoy from the United States.