U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee, tomorrow will introduce an amendment to the Continuing Resolution that would block two key forms of U.S. assistance to Egypt unless economic reforms and human rights safeguards are adopted, while also initiating a more thorough, longer term reevaluation of U.S. military assistance to Egypt. Among other measures, The Egypt Accountability and Democracy Amendment would block the disbursement of additional economic support funds and new foreign military financing (FMF) contracts until Egypt begins to enact economic reforms and the Obama administration certifies that Egypt is protecting basic freedoms and human rights.
"In the 21st century, America's foreign assistance must reflect our values as well as our interests," said Rubio. "Our foreign policy programs must make clear that the era of blank checks in exchange for little or nothing that advances America's interests is over.
"Encouraging a stable Egypt at peace with its neighbors remains in our national interest, but the American taxpayer cannot keep unconditionally helping a Morsi-led government that is overseeing a deteriorating security situation in the Sinai, diminishing its ties with Israel and failing to adequately safeguard civil liberties and human rights," added Rubio. "The U.S.-Egypt relationship has been a critical one for decades, but it must be adapted to reflect the new political reality the Arab Spring has created.
"That adaptation process must begin with how our money is being spent and conditioning our assistance on Egypt's adoption of economic reforms and a serious effort to protect the rights of religious minorities, women, a free press and the ability of Egyptian and foreign NGOs to promote civil society, governance and democracy," he concluded.
Earlier today, Rubio also delivered a speech on the Senate floor discussing this measure and the future of U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt. The speech can be viewed here.
The United States has provided more than $71 billion in military and economic assistance to Egypt since 1948. This aid plays an important role in supporting peace in the region and furthering U.S. strategic objectives. However, since the revolution in February 2011 that led to the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, U.S. assistance has not been modified or adapted to the new strategic environment. On his recent trip to Cairo, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the disbursement of $250 million in economic support funds to Egypt, without actual progress on economic reforms. The administration has stated that a second aid package of $260 million will be released once Egypt commits to further reforms.
More specifically, the Egypt Accountability and Democracy Amendment would:
Block the disbursement of additional economic support funds and new foreign military financing (FMF) contracts until Egypt begins to enact economic reforms and the administration certifies that Egypt:
has adopted and implemented legal reforms protecting political, economic, and religious freedoms;
is not acting to restrict the political, economic, or religious freedoms and human rights of the citizens and residents of Egypt;
is continuing to demonstrate a commitment to free and fair elections and is not taking any steps to interfere with or undermine the credibility of such elections.
has lifted restrictions in law and practice on the work and funding of Egyptian and international NGOs, comprising those in the human rights and democracy field, including the International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, and Freedom House.
is implementing the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty;
is taking all necessary action to eliminate smuggling networks and to detect and destroy tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip;
is taking all necessary action to combat terrorism in the Sinai.
Begin to recalibrate the U.S.-Egyptian security relationship toward Egypt's actual security needs by requiring:
an analysis of Egypt's security requirements produced by the Department of Defense, in consultation with the Egyptian Government, to be shared with the relevant congressional committees;
that the administration certify that the Department of Defense has allocated a portion of Egypt's FMF, no less than $100 million, toward counterterrorism tools, including equipment and training related to border security, to address instability in the Sinai;
a report on all FMF contracts the Department of Defense has carried out over the last ten years as well as the Department's plans for contracting over the next decade.
Begin to shift U.S. assistance away from military programs and toward civilian assistance. This amendment would require the administration to begin a dialogue with the Egyptian government and with Egyptian civil society about the need to rebalance our assistance away from its current focus on military aid by:
reallocating economic funds not provided to Egypt during periods when certification is not in effect towards democracy and governance programs, including direct support for secular, democratic nongovernmental organizations, as well as programming and support for rule of law and human rights, good governance, political competition and consensus-building, and civil society;
transferring the interest earned in Egypt's FMF account to funds available for the Middle East Partnership Initiative and allocating these funds for democracy and governance efforts;
requiring the President to submit a report to Congress describing the results of an Egypt policy review that includes a dialogue with the Government of Egypt and civil society on how to rebalance U.S. military and economic assistance.
The amendment includes a national security waiver that allows the Secretary of State to waive the conditions on future funding for FMF contracts every 180 days if it is in the national security interests of the United States to do so.