"Egypt is a vital ally and important strategic partner in advancing the
peace process in the Middle East," House Foreign Operations Subcommittee
chair Rep. Nita Lowey said.
"However, I am concerned that in recent years,
Egypt has not shown much progress on strengthening democratic institutions,
ensuring judicial independence, supporting a free press and promoting human
rights. That is why I have placed conditions on $100 million of Egypt's aid
package requiring progress on these goals."
A leading lobbyist against U.S. aid to Cairo has been Egyptian
sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, sentenced in absentia by an Egyptian court
to two years on charges of defaming Egypt. Ibrahim has met leading members
of the House and Senate in his campaign to link U.S. aid to an improvement
in human rights in Egypt.
"I am pushing for conditionality, and I would like the democracy and
freedom agenda to be a bipartisan one," Ibrahim said.
In September, Ibrahim met a range of senior House and Senate members.
They included Ms. Lowey, Rep. Trent Franks, Sen. Sam Brownback and Sen. John
The State Department has fought congressional attempts to reduce or link
U.S. aid to Egyptian human rights or other conditions. Officials said
previous attempts have enraged President Hosni Mubarak and threatened to
torpedo U.S. strategic relations with Egypt.
"In my personal view, it is not a useful tool of diplomacy," former U.S.
ambassador to Cairo, Francis Ricciardone, said.