The United States Department of State declared that its military assistance to Egypt comes in light of security threats, despite its disapproval of the human rights situation and the government’s approach to domestic dissent.
During the daily press briefings, spokespersonMarie Harf said that security issues in Egypt include the growth of “Islamic State”, among “other things”.
Yet the US remains “troubled by the practice of mass trials and sentencing, which we’ve said run counter to what we think due process under the law should look like”, she continued.
Harf said that the US speaks out very strongly and has concerns about the human rights situation, including Saturday’s life imprisonment sentence against Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan, and another mass trial of 379 members.
In response, Egypt’s foreign ministry stated that these reactions represent a flagrant interference in the affairs of the judiciary, and an encroachment on its independence. The ministry further stated that they overlook the nature of the charges against the accused; from blatant incitements to murder, violence and terrorism, and they also reflect lack of familiarity with litigation procedures.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on these countries who give themselves the right to evaluate and criticise judgments rendered by independent judicial bodies and appoint themselves custodian of the conditions of human rights in the world, to focus their efforts on minding their people’s conditions, and address the racist manifestations against particular groups in some of these countries,” said a Tuesday statement.
US-Egyptian ties have been unstable since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi.
Further, US aid to Egypt had been a pivotal point of contention since Morsi’s overthrow. Military aid to Egypt was temporarily suspended, as the world power regarded the overthrow as a military coup, sparking US concerns over democracy in Egypt.
In December, a new drafting of the US budget was worded so that Egypt must work towards democratic transition in order to qualify for the over $1bn military support it receives annually. However, it also included a new article allowing for the Secretary of State to supersede the conditions on grounds of “national security”.