Withholding military aid to Egypt 'on the table,' is civilian aid next?

Uniformed men keep protesters off Tahrir Square in Egypt. The country should take extra caution with its next actions on NGOs or risk losing $300 million worth of civilian aid. Photo by: Gigi Ibrahim / CC BY

Egypt should take extra caution with its next actions on nongovernmental organizations in the country, or else it might also lose $300 million worth of civilian aid.

On Tuesday (Jan. 31), Freedom House, one of the NGOs targeted by Egyptian police raids in December, in a fact sheet, took note of the $300 million economic and social assistance the United States sends Egypt annually. The funding, it says, includes funding for democracy and human rights in the country.

The problem, however, is that the Ministry for Planning and International Cooperation, which receives the funding, is headed by Fayza Abul-Naga. She is the same Egyptian official who has allegedly been directing the assaults against NGOs and civil society in Egypt.

While Freedom House did not explicitly say this conundrum should push the United States to withdraw its civilian aid to Egypt, Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy said the “fact sheet made the case.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Az), one of the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the issue of withholding the $1.3 billion U.S. military aid to Egypt is already “on the table.” This came after the clampdown on NGOs in Egypt and the travel ban imposed on U.S. citizens, including U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s son, Sam LaHood, last week.

The European Union, meanwhile, released a statement on the matter, calling on the Egyptian authorities to respect freedom of association in the country and ensure inspection on civil society organizations be in line with “appropriate legal procedures.”

U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson sent a letter to the country’s justice minister to end the travel ban on the Americans under investigation. Justice Minister Adel Abdelhamid Abdallah, however, returned the letter, Reuters reported on Wednesday (Feb. 1).

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.