U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday opened the way to resume $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Egypt after waiving legislative requirements over its progress toward democracy.
Clinton took the decision “on the basis of America’s national security interests, allowing for the continued flow of foreign military financing to Egypt,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
“Today, Secretary Clinton has certified to Congress that Egypt is meeting its obligations under its Peace Treaty with Israel,” Nuland said.
“These decisions reflect America’s over-arching goal: to maintain our strategic partnership with an Egypt made stronger and more stable by a successful transition to democracy,” she added.
The decisions marked the denouement of a crisis in the 30-year-old U.S.-Egyptian alliance that erupted over a crackdown in December on pro-democracy groups by Egypt’s interim military rulers.
“Egyptians are living through one of the most remarkable periods of their thousands of years of history. Today we reaffirm our support for Egypt, for its historic accomplishments to date, for the democratic journey it is on and for our enduring partnership.”
The State Department spokeswoman added that Egypt has made significant progress toward democracy in the last 15 months, including free and fair parliamentary elections and the transfer of legislative authority to the new People’s Assembly, and a date announced for complete transition to civilian leadership.
“However, Egypt’s transition to democracy is not yet complete, and more work remains to protect universal rights and freedoms. The Egyptian people themselves have made this clear to their own leaders.”
Nuland underscored that Egypt has maintained over thirty years of peace with Israel. “It contributes to efforts to stop proliferation and arms smuggling and facilitates missions from Afghanistan to counterterrorism in the Horn of Africa.”
She added that Washington is “committed to supporting the Egyptian people” as they strive for the dignity, opportunity, rights and freedoms for which they have already sacrificed so much.
“That includes protection for civil society and NGOs, which have a critical role to play in building Egypt’s democracy,” she said adding that Washington remains “deeply concerned regarding the trials of civil society activists—non-Egyptians and Egyptians alike—and have raised these concerns at the highest levels, urging an end to harassment.”
“The political transition underway is bringing about a new, more democratic Egypt. As this process continues, we look forward to engaging with Egyptians on how we can best support and advance the interests we share. We will, of course, consult closely with the Congress about these issues,” she said.