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Sunday, 9 September 2018

SecState signs off on USD 1.2 bn military assistance package to Egypt as Bright Star war games start

**#9 US signs off on USD 1.2 bn military assistance package to Egypt: US State Secretary Mike Pompeo signed off on the release of a USD 1.2 bn military aid package to Egypt on Friday, the Associated Press reports. Pompeo signed “national security waivers allowing the money known as foreign military financing, or FMF, to be spent.” USD 1 bn will are meant to be allocated to the 2018 budget and USD 195 mn are from 2017. Congress has 15 days to make a decision about the waivers, which were signed last month but only made public on Friday. The reason for the delay remains unclear, the newswire notes.

War games: News of the military assistance package came as President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met yesterday with US Central Command boss Gen. Joseph Votel. The two met as Egyptian, US and allied military personnel kicked off Bright Star wargames for the second year in a row, according to an Ittihadiya statement. The exercices, set to wrap up on 20 September, also see forces from Saudi Arabia, Greece, Britain, Jordan, the UAE, Italy and France participating, according to Al Arabiya.

Background: Pompeo’s promise last month to disburse aid that was withheld from Egypt last year over human rights concerns was met backlash from rights groups and activists, as it had also come weeks after the US unfroze another USD 195 mn in military aid to Egypt. The State Department said it still had “serious concerns about the human rights situation in Egypt” — an issue it will continue to monitor closely, but noted as well that “strengthened security cooperation with Egypt is important to US national security.” VOA also has the story.

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