Each year, the United States sets aside 1.3 billion dollars for Egypt. Or rather, for the Egyptian Armed Forces. For the Americans, the country is one of the most important allies in the region, and that pays off in huge amounts every year. But this economic support is increasingly under attack.

The president, who regularly calls out that “human rights are at the centre of us foreign policy, it is a complicated balancing act to perform, on the one hand, the promise, and, on the other hand, the ties with the regime of president Sisi, who, in spite of his reputation as a stable factor in the region, is easy to clean.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Tuesday how the Biden government intends to address this dilemma: of the 300 million dollars still to be transferred to Egypt this fiscal year, Washington will transfer only 170 million. The remaining 130 million will be withheld from the US and handed over only if Egypt makes visible steps in the field of human rights.

But while this seems to be an improvement on previous governments’ policies, nineteen human rights organisations complain in a statement they issued on Tuesday. If Biden really wants to make a statement, they say, then he can also accept what the US Congress legally established back in 2014: that if Egypt does not take demonstrable steps in the field of human rights, the US will have to withhold 300 million from the 1.3 billion budget every year.

However, this measure has never been applied; both Obama and Trump used a special exemption every year that allowed the 300 million to be paid out, despite Egypt going through the most repressive period in the country’s modern history under the rule of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Is that Biden, during his election campaign, Trump attacked his close ties with Sisi, and now, a special exemption is used to make the 170-million to the Egyptian government, against the will of Congress – according to the human rights organizations, with little evidence of a foreign policy that human rights are a priority.

“If the government’s commitment to human rights was genuine, it would be an easy choice,” they write in their statement. Namely: “withholding the 300 million in military aid, as determined by Congress, in order to encourage Sisi to change course”.

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