'US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has authorised the release of $1.2 billion in military aid to Egypt, overriding previous human rights concerns that had held up funding.
The figure includes $1 billion for the current 2018 budget year and $195 million earmarked for 2017 which would have been returned to the treasury had it not been spent by the end of the month.
The State Department informed Congress of the move on Friday; congressmen have 15 days to contest the national security waivers allowing the money, known as foreign military financing (FMF), to be delivered.
In July, Pompeo also lifted $195 million in FMF that was originally listed for 2016, but which former secretary of state Rex Tillerson had frozen due to the continuing concerns over the state of human rights under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
The Trump administration still has “serious concerns about the human rights situation in Egypt” and will continue to raise those concerns with senior Egyptian officials, the State Department said in a statement.
“At the same time, strengthened security cooperation with Egypt is important to US national security. Secretary Pompeo determined that continuing with the obligation and expenditure of these FMF funds is important to strengthening our security cooperation with Egypt,” it concluded.
Human rights groups have condemned the move as giving a green light to abuse and torture.
“Sending more military aid is just doubling down on July’s terrible decision,” US-based Human Rights First said in a statement. “This is a clear signal that the Trump Administration is more than okay with President Sisi’s targeting of human rights defenders. Green lights don’t come much bigger than this.”'
Read more: US authorises $1.2 billion in military aid to Egypt
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