US Senate backs $2.2 billion arms sale to Egypt despite human rights concerns

US Senate backs $2.2 billion arms sale to Egypt despite human rights concerns
2 min read
11 March, 2022
Opponents of the sale argued that US companies should not be selling arms to countries with poor records on human rights.
Sisi has overseen a crackdown on dissent that has tightened in recent years [Getty]

The US Senate on Thursday backed the $2.2 billion sale of C-130 Super Hercules planes to Egypt, voting 81-18 against an effort to block the deal over human rights concerns.

Republican Senator Rand Paul had sought to stop the sale, joined by some of the 100-member Senate's most progressive Democrats. Opponents of the sale argued that US companies should not be selling arms to countries with poor records on human rights.

Days after the defence deal was announced in January, President Joe Biden's administration said it would deny $130 million of military aid, or 10 percent of the total allocated to Egypt, if the country did not address human rights concerns.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, has overseen a crackdown on dissent that has tightened in recent years.

The sale of 12 C-130J-30 Super Hercules planes for as much as $2.2 billion would include support equipment, spares and technical support, the Pentagon said.

The State Department said the proposed sales "will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a Major Non-NATO Ally country that continues to be an important strategic partner in the Middle East".

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the planes.

In September, the administration released $170 million in military aid to Egypt but put another $130 million on hold, conditioned on Egypt dropping prosecutions and charges against human rights activists and organisations.