US releases $195 million in frozen military aid to Egypt

The Trump administration has decided to release $195 million in military aid to Egypt that was frozen last year. (The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS)
Updated 26 July 2018

US releases $195 million in frozen military aid to Egypt

  • The funds for Egypt, a key US ally, were withheld last year after the passage of a law that severely restricted the work of non-governmental organizations
  • Since 2013, international human rights groups have criticized President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s government

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration has decided to release $195 million in military aid to Egypt that was frozen last year because of human rights concerns, a State Department official said Thursday.
“Recognizing steps Egypt has taken over the last year in response to specific US concerns... the administration has decided to allow Egypt to use the remaining $195 million,” the official said, without describing those steps.
The funds for Egypt, a key US ally, were withheld last year after the passage of a law that severely restricted the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
“There remain areas of concern, and we will continue to make clear the need for progress in addressing them, including... addressing our concerns about the NGO law,” the State Department official said.
“We will continue to look for and encourage opportunities to improve and bolster cooperation,” the official said.
The US “remains committed to strengthening our strategic relationship with Egypt,” the official added.
Since 2013, international human rights groups have criticized President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s government for cracking down on secular and left-wing activists, as well as Islamists close to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Human Rights Watch said last year that the NGO law would lead to “unprecedented levels of repression and ... criminalize the work of many NGOs.”


Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

Updated 29 October 2020

Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

  • A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”

BEIRUT: Lebanese negotiators laid out their claim to maritime territory on Wednesday as they began a second round of talks with Israel over their disputed sea border.
The contested zone in the Mediterranean is an estimated 860 square kilometers known as Block 9, which is rich in oil and gas. Future negotiations will also tackle the countries’ land border.
Wednesday’s meeting took place at the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) amid tight security. An assistant of the UN special coordinator for Lebanon chaired the session, and the US Ambassador to Algeria, John Desrocher, was the mediator.
A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”
The Lebanese delegation produced maps and documents to support their claim to the disputed waters.
In indirect talks between Lebanon and Israel in 2012, US diplomat Frederick Hoff proposed “a middle line for the maritime borders, whereby Lebanon would get 58 percent of the disputed area and Israel would be given the remaining 42 percent, which translates to 500 square kilometers for Lebanon and 300 square kilometers for Israel.”
On the eve of Wednesday’s meeting, Lebanese and Israeli officials met to discuss a framework to resolve the conflict through the implementation of UN Resolution 1701.
UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col praised the “constructive role that both parties played in calming tensions along the Blue Line” and stressed the necessity of “taking proactive measures and making a change in the prevailing dynamics regarding tension and escalation.”