(WASHINGTON) — On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will formally notify Congress that she plans to allow $1.3 billion of aid to go to the Egyptian military, according to a Senior State Department official.
Egypt met the long-standing requirement that it honor its treaty with Israel to receive U.S. aid, but Clinton will waive the democratic standards certification requirement added this year by Congress. Those standards included Egypt’s transition to a civilian government, holding free and fair elections and implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, religion and due process.
The State Department will issue a formal statement from the secretary once all of the congressional notifications are out, but Sen. Patrick Leahy, who was informed Wednesday and authored the additional requirements, has already registered his disapproval. Leahy said in a statement that he wants only “demonstrably necessary” funds released, and the rest withheld until Egypt makes more progress towards meeting the democratic requirements.
Leahy, other members of Congress and human rights groups have been highly critical of Egypt’s transition over the last year, with the ongoing case of the American aid workers being charged and held in Egypt as the most prominent example.
While acknowledging that Egypt’s transition to democracy still needs work, the official said the country is making strides. “Egypt has made more progress in 16 months than in the last 60 years including: free and fair parliamentary elections and the transfer of legislative authority to the new People’s Assembly,” the State Department official said.
The official also said continuing the flow of financing to Egypt’s military was in America’s national interest and that the United States will still maintain control of when and how the money will be released, paying military contracts as they are due.
“Just as we do with our military assistance to every country, we will disburse security funding as needed to meet contractual obligations,” said the official. “We will maintain the flexibility to make adjustments…at any time if conditions require it.”
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