By POMED –

On March 21, Congress released its draft omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018. The bill, which (was passed on March 22), includes language relevant to U.S. bilateral assistance to Egypt.

In the proposed bill, Egypt would receive $1.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF), but $300 million (23 percent) of that amount would be conditioned on a number of benchmarks. The Secretary of State would be required to report and certify that the Government of Egypt is:

– “taking steps to advance democracy and human rights in Egypt, including to govern democratically and protect religious minorities and the rights of women;”

– “implement reforms that protect freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, including the ability of civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and the media to function without interference;”

– “release political prisoners and provide detainees with due process of law;” “hold Egyptian security forces accountable, including officers credibly alleged to have violated human rights;”

– “investigate and prosecute cases of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances;” and “provide regular access for United States officials to monitor such assistance in areas where the assistance is used.”

The text includes the authority for the Secretary of State to waive these conditions if doing so is determined to be “important to the national security interest of the United States.” In the event that the conditions are waived, the bill requires the Secretary of State to submit an unclassified report to Congress explaining which conditions were not met and why, as well as an assessment of Egypt’s compliance with UN sanctions in place against North Korea. The portion of Egypt’s FMF subject to these conditions is increased from $195 million (15 percent) in FY17 and FY16 appropriations. The FY18 draft bill also include $112.5 million in economic assistance to Egypt, the same level as granted in FY17.

The Senate’s original draft legislation had proposed a reduction of Egypt’s FMF to $1 billion with 25 percent conditioned on human rights benchmarks, while the House version had maintained the $1.3 billion level without any conditions.

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https://mailchi.mp/56342203042f/egypt-daily-update-843521?e=8e9e92eefa