x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

US Senate panel wants conditions on Egyptian military aid

The US Senate panel in charge of foreign aid proposes funding be kept at the present levels, but that military aid be divided into four parts and conditions including that the Cairo government holds a democratic election.

CAIRO // The US Senate panel in charge of foreign aid proposed yesterday that funds sent to Egypt be kept at the present levels, but that military aid be divided into four parts and conditions set on it, including that the Cairo government holds a democratic election.

The Senate's state and foreign operations appropriations subcommittee approved the US$1.3 billion (Dh4.77bn) in military aid to Egypt and $250m in economic assistance that the president, Barack Obama, requested for the next fiscal year, which starts on October 1, matching this year's level despite upheaval in the most populous Arab nation.

Washington has been grappling with how to handle the $1.55bn it sends to Egypt each year since the military ousted the elected Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, this month.

US law bars aid to countries where there has been a military coup, but many US officials want to preserve ties to Egypt's army and do not want to risk contributing to further upheaval in an important regional ally.

The Senate plan would divide the aid into four blocks.

It would send a quarter of the military aid immediately, but the next tranche would be conditioned on state department certification that the Cairo government was supporting an "inclusive" political process and releasing political prisoners.

The rest of the aid would depend on a democratic election being held and a new government taking steps to protect the rights of women and religious minorities.

Yesterday, meanwhile, tensions continued to mount as supporters and opponents of the ousted Mr Morsi clashed on the streets of Cairo, leaving 10 dead.

The clashes broke out on Monday and raged through the night, wounding dozens of people.

The interior ministry warned yesterday that it would deal with any lawlessness "firmly and decisively" while urging "everyone of all affiliations to maintain peaceful expressions of opinion" following the latest bloodshed.

At least six people were killed yesterday when opponents of Mr Morsi attacked supporters of the ousted president staging a sit-in near Cairo University, state media reported.

In the Al Nahda area near the university, at least 16 cars had been torched in the clashes, an AFP correspondent said.

Yesterday, between 1,000 and 2,000 pro-Morsi demonstrators remained in the square.

Mr Morsi's supporters also marched on the US embassy, setting off a gunfight with opponents in nearby Tahrir Square that killed one protester.

Later in Qalyub, north of Cairo, street battles killed three people, one of them run over by a train as he tried to escape the violence.

As the fighting flared, the interim president, Adly Mansour, appealed for a "new page in the book of the history of the nation, without rancour, hatred and confrontation".

But Mr Morsi's family told a news conference on Monday that they would take legal action against the military for having "kidnapped" the elected president after he had ben deposed in a popularly backed coup on July 3.

Calls for Mr Morsi's release from military custody, where he has remained since then, have been echoed by the US, Germany, the United Nations and the European Union.

"It is now of utmost importance that Egypt embarks on a transition, allowing a transfer of power to a civilian-led and democratically elected government," EU foreign ministers said on Monday.

 

* Reuters and Agence France-Presse