Egypt’s US envoy slams ‘deceived’ legislators’ bid to block aid

The Egyptian ambassador to the United States has suggested US legislators trying to curtail Washington’s $1.3bn in annual aid to Cairo are being “deceived by lies and falsehoods” propagated by members of a “terrorist organisation”.

A thread of tweets on Wednesday, attributed to Ambassador Motaz Zahran, but sent from the official account of the Egyptian embassy in Washington, DC, hailed decades of close ties while praising “the tremendous support to bolster the bilateral relations” shown by the administration of President Joe Biden and “the overwhelming majority of Congressional members”.He added those legislators – seemingly unlike others – were “refusing to be deceived by lies and falsehoods propagated by people who belong to a terrorist organisation with a known record in disseminating hatred and inciting to violence through consistent outright lies and delusional tactics, by exploiting the values we all share, stand by and have inherent moral obligations to patronise, propagate for, and promote”.

The social media drama comes as the Biden administration faces increased pressure from rights groups and US legislators to curtail military aid to the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

El-Sisi, who came to power in a 2013 military coup that overthrew President Mohamed Morsi, has been accused of crackdowns on freedom of expression, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and forced disappearances.

Biden had previously said there would be “no more blank cheques” for el-Sisi, who former President Donald Trump once reportedly referred to as his “favourite dictator”, however, his administration has again earmarked $1.3bn in military aid for Egypt in its 2022 budget request.

US Representative Tom Malinowski, a vocal critic of US aid to Egypt, quickly slammed the Egyptian’s ambassador’s message.

“Nothing conveys the entitled arrogance of Egypt’s dictatorship better than taking $1.3 billion a year in US taxpayers funds while accusing members of Congress concerned about human rights (including detention & torture of innocent Americans) of being deceived by ‘terrorists,’” he tweeted.

Elisa Epstein, an advocacy officer for Human Rights Watch, called Zahran’s tweets “deeply harmful and concerning”.

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