Rights groups criticize Washington visit of Egyptian president el-Sisi
(April 2) U.S. president Donald Trump will try to rebuild the relationship between the U.S. and Egypt as he meets with Egyptian president Abdel al-Sisi on Monday April 3rd.
|An anonymous White House official said that the visit will focus on security issues and military aid: "He wants to use President Sisi's visit to reboot the bilateral relationship and build on the strong connection the two presidents established when they first met in New York last September." Relationships were strained between Obama and el-Sisi as Obama had supported elected president Morsi whom el-Sisi ousted. He was critical of el-Sisi's crackdown on supporters of Morsi. Egypt now considers the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Obama froze some aid for 2 years after Morsi was overthrown in 2013. Over a thousand people died in el-Sisi's subsequent crackdown. However, Egypt now continues to receive about $1.3 billion in aid annually. Human rights groups estimate that at least 40,000 political prisoners have been detained by the el-Sisi government. Egypt is fighting an insurgency in the Sinai. The country is also facing severe economic conditions as it attempts to implement austerity policies demanded by the IMF for a loan and it is trying also to reduce subsidies.|
Since Morsy’s removal, Egyptian security forces have arrested at least 41,000 and possibly as many as 60,000 people, according to local human rights groups. Security forces arbitrarily detained many under accusations that they were members or sympathizers of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement to which Morsy belonged. Courts have sentenced thousands for violating a 2013 law that effectively bans opposition protests, including leftists and other non-Islamist activists in addition to alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
In response, the U.S. Congress should maintain, at a minimum, the restrictions on security assistance from previous years unless there is serious and measurable progress on human rights, such as dropping the investigation into nongovernmental organizations, repealing the law banning protests, and beginning a review of the cases of those detained arbitrarily and sentenced solely for peacefully exercising their civil or political rights. Congress should ensure that the Trump administration cannot waive these restrictions.Surely given that the Obama administration waived the human rights restrictions numerous times, the Trump administration can be expected to do the same or perhaps simply repeal the restrictions. An article titled "The Final Death of the Arab Spring Comes Courtesy of Trump" in Buzzfeed by Borzou Daragahi deals in depth with many of the issues concerning the relationship of el-Sisi and Trump.