Egypt

U.S. Moves to Restore Military Aid to Egypt, Rand Paul Does Not Approve

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The Obama administration could soon resume sending military aid to Egypt as early as next week. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to issue a waiver that would restore most, but not all of the $1.3 billion slated for the Egyptian government. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) supports resuming the aid, arguing it's needed for "a strong and stable Egypt." But this move would bypass Congress.

On December 23, 2011, President Obama signed the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act. This act makes military aid to Egypt conditional. The aid can only resume if the Secretary of State certifies that the Egyptian government is "implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, and due process of law."

But the Egyptian government has made little progress since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. According to Amnesty International, the ruling military council has still not repealed the emergency laws implemented under Mubarak and has actually killed more than 100 protesters since October 2011. In addition, the military council has harassed over 400 non-government organizations (NGOs), including Freedom House and the National Democratic Institute, and even detained the Secretary of Transportation's son.

However, the certification process can be sidestepped if Secretary Clinton issues a waiver citing that the aid is necessary on national security grounds. Such a waiver is expected next week, and would then lead to most of the aid moving forward to Egypt.

Yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) issued a joint statement urging Secretary Clinton to delay the military aid:

A decision to waive the conditions on military aid would send the wrong message to the Egyptian government that U.S. taxpayers will subsidize the Egyptian military while it continues to oversee the crackdown on civil society and to commit human rights abuses.

The two outlined their criteria for deciding on the aid package:

We strongly recommend that you delay any decision on certification until domestic and foreign NGOs are allowed to operate freely in Egypt, laws prohibiting the NGOs from operating in Egypt are repealed, the case against Egyptian and international NGOs has been favorably resolved, property seized from the NGOs and their staff is returned, the United States Government is repaid all bail posted to secure the release of NGO staff, and the Egyptian government begins to respect the fundamental rights of its citizens and due process of law.

Military aid to Egypt has also made its way into the 2012 Republican primaries. In February 2011, former Senator Rick Santorum criticized Obama's support for democracy activists in Egypt, since he "sides with protesters" and "turned our backs" against Mubarak, an ally. Since then, Santorum has still backed the former dictator. During the GOP debate in Arizona on February 22, he even referred to Mubarak as "a friend of ours."

Meanwhile, Ron Paul has strongly opposed foreign aid. He even attacked Santorum as a "fake" conservative, since Santorum "voted to send billions, of our tax dollars, to dictators in North Korea and Egypt."

Reason.tv on Rand Paul.