Antony Blinken
Antony BlinkenReuters

Washington will make only a small portion of military aid to Egypt conditional on human rights, the State Department told AFP on Tuesday.

US law stipulates that $300 million a year in security assistance be disbursed only if Cairo meets a number of human rights criteria, but US governments in the past have always invoked national security to waive this rule.

This year, because "we are continuing to discuss our serious concerns about human rights in Egypt," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken "will not certify that the Government of Egypt is taking sustained and effective steps related to the legislative human rights-related conditions," a US State Department spokesperson told AFP.

However, Blinken will also depart from the law by "making available" $300 million "for border security, non-proliferation, and counterterrorism programs," the spokesperson added.

Of the total, $170 million will be released without conditions, and $130 million only "if the Government of Egypt affirmatively addresses specific human-rights related conditions," the spokesperson told the news agency.

"US officials have conveyed to Egypt's leaders specific steps we have urged them to take," the spokesperson added without detailing them.

For all that, Egypt "is a valuable US partner, particularly on regional security, counterterrorism, and trade," the spokesperson told AFP.

US-Egypt ties were strained under the Obama administration, which suspended American military aid to Egypt following the 2013 ouster of former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, before releasing it two years later.

Following the election of Donald Trump, however, ties improved. Sisi praised Trump after his election and said he expected greater engagement in the Middle East from his administration.

In February, the Biden administration approved the sale of 168 tactical missiles to Egypt.

The $197 million sale of the Raytheon-made Rolling Airframe Missiles was requested by the Egyptian navy to improve defense in coastal areas and around the Red Sea.

Biden's administration in August called Egypt a "constructive" defense partner despite concerns on human rights.

Several leading rights groups criticized Washington's latest decision in a joint statement as "a complete betrayal" of its repeated commitments to put "human rights at the center of its foreign policy and specifically its relationship with Egypt."

They accused the Biden administration, "which has frequently sought to distinguish itself" from former President Donald Trump by promising more to be stronger on human rights, of in fact taking a "notably weaker" position.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Yom Kippur in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)