(AA) — The decision to lift a hold on military assistance to Egypt is not driven by an improved human rights record in Egypt but rather its security, the U.S. said Monday.
“The threat to Egypt’s security have increased over the past few months, and obviously, we were making decisions based on that. That includes the growth of ISIL and other things,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.
She added that the U.S. is “troubled” by Egypt’s use of “mass trials and sentencing.”
President Barack Obama said earlier this month that he would release the restrictions on Egypt’s military aid that were put in place after a July 2013 military coup by Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi against then-President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader.
Hundreds of demonstrators were killed when security forces violently dispersed two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square and Giza’s Nahda Square.
The Egyptian government then launched a sweeping crackdown on Morsi’s supporters, in which the Rabaa dispersal is widely seen as having been a turning point.
An Egyptian court this past weekend sentenced 37 defendants to life terms, including Egyptian-American activist Mohamed Soltan. Fourteen defendants were sentenced to death, including Muslim Brotherhood Guide General Mohamed Badie. All the defendants faced a host of charges, including organizing the sit-ins and attempts to destabilize the government.
Last week, Egypt requested to buy missiles from the U.S. due to a Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, in which Cairo plays a crucial role.