Tuesday, March 31, 2015

US lifts suspension of military aid to Egypt

President Barack Obam
Photo AP
President Barack Obama on Tuesday released military aid to Egypt that was suspended after the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The White House said Obama notified Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in a phone call Tuesday. It said that Egypt will remain the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign military financing worldwide.
The funds were suspended 21 months ago after the ouster of president Mohammed Morsi. Washington could not provide the annual aid package until it certified advances by el-Sisi's government on democracy, human rights and rule of law,  or issued a declaration that such aid is in the interests of U.S. national security. Now that Egypt demonstrates to what extend it is combatting the extremist threat in the region, the U.S. will be sending 12 F-16 fighter jets, 20 missiles and up to 125 tank kits, while continuing the $1.3 billion in military assistance for Egypt and the f unds so far upheld, according to Al Ahram Online.
The aid comes as Egypt is trying to play a leading role in forming an Arab military alliance that can fight terrorism in the region.
The White House said it is not issuing a certification that Egypt has made progress toward democracy. Instead, the U.S. said it is maintaining that the aid is in the interest of U.S. national security. Obama told el-Sisi that beginning in fiscal year 2018, US will channel aid for Egypt to counterterrorism, border security, Sinai security, and maritime security and to sustain weapons systems already in Egypt's arsenal.
The White House said Obama also reiterated U.S. concerns about Egypt's continued imprisonment of activists and encouraged increased respect for freedom of speech and assembly.
Juist on Tuesday a court in Alexandria rejected an appeal by activist Hassan Mostafa, who together with seven others last year was sentenced to two years in prison for participating in an illegal demonstration in December 2013. Dozens were protesting at the time to demand retribution during the trial of two policemen who tortured to death the  28-year-old Khaled Said, who was  targeted after he posted an internet video footage ostensibly showing policemen sharing the spoils of a drug bust.
Protests against the death of Khaled Said and the initial acquittal of the tweo policemen who killed him, were one of the catalysts that started the protests thart led to the fall of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The court on Tuesday upheld the sentence against Hassan, who was also fined LE50,000 (nearly $6,550).

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