The United States Congress allocated $1.3bn of military aid to be made available to Egypt in Fiscal Year 2014 (FY 2014). Following the decision, the US could also provide an additional $250m to the Egyptian government for economic support, including $35m earmarked for higher education programmes.
The bill, upon which both the Senate and House of Representatives agreed on Monday, ties all aid to two requirements; firstly, that Egypt maintains “the strategic relationship with the US” and, secondly, that it adheres to “its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty”. The Secretary of State, currently John Kerry, is charged with determining if these conditions are met.
The money allocated for FY 2014 has two further conditions set within the bill. A first instalment of $975m will be made available “if the Secretary of State certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that the government of Egypt has held a constitutional referendum, and is taking steps to support a democratic transition in Egypt”. The remaining $576.8m will be available following the occurrence of parliamentary and presidential elections. The new government must also show that it “is taking steps to govern democratically”. The Secretary of State must also certify this in front of the aforementioned committee.
The bill must ultimately be approved by President Barack Obama as per the US legislative process.
Following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-supported President Mohamed Morsi in July, Washington decided in October to suspend the delivery of military aid to Egypt pending the election of a civilian government. This, however, did not impact support that “directly benefits” Egyptians in areas such as health, education and private sector development.
The Senate passed the “Egypt Assistance Reform Act of 2013” in December, which would give the US President the ability to waive the restrictions set out under the “foreign funding law” and, subsequently, allowing for the return of military funding.
In October it emerged that Egypt had hired the services of a lobby firm for public relations and lobbying services with the US government in Washington. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed at the time ““the Egyptian government determines the content of the message to be directed and targeted at either the US administration, congress, research centres or the media”. The ministry added that the firm had been hired for its “contacts, expertise and influence in this area”.
Egyptians took to the polls on Tuesday to participate in the first of a two-day referendum on a new draft constitution. The previous constitution, which was passed during Morsi’s presidency, was suspended in July with his ouster.