Egypt dodges Trump’s ire as White House orders huge last-minute support cuts


Jan 15, 2021

US army support to Egypt, Jordan and Israel was explicitly excluded from an inventory of deep cuts to home and overseas spending ordered by the White House in a last-minute signal of outgoing President Donald Trump’s frustration with final month’s omnibus spending package deal.

The White House notified Congress on Thursday evening of the president’s intent to chop $27.four billion in authorities spending, together with funding for abroad vaccination applications, therapy of HIV/AIDS, migrant and refugee help, the Environmental Protection Agency and overseas cultural change applications.

Lawmakers are unlikely to behave on the discover amid impeachment proceedings towards the president following an assault by a mob of Trump supporters on the Capitol final week.

But the choice triggers an computerized 45-day freeze on the funds till it’s reversed, almost definitely by President-elect Joe Biden, who takes workplace Wednesday. Al-Monitor has reached out to Biden’s transition workforce for remark.

Trump ordered the huge cuts after publicly railing towards what he known as “wasteful spending” included within the omnibus invoice handed by Congress in late December.

“It’s called the COVID relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with COVID,” Trump stated in a televised look in late December.

“The bill contains $85.5 million for assistance to Cambodia, $134 million to Burma, $1.3 billion for Egypt and the Egyptian military, which will go out and buy almost exclusively Russian military equipment,” he stated. Much of the funding included within the invoice had been requested by the White House’s fiscal 2021 price range request.

The preliminary proposal to chop overseas support, first reported by The Washington Post, initially included a halt of all US army and financial support to Egypt, Al-Monitor has realized. That reduce was later eliminated after consultations between senior White House advisers earlier than Congress was notified Thursday. The White House didn’t reply to Al-Monitor’s request for remark by publication time.

Trump’s uncommon criticism of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in December seemed to be in reference of Cairo’s buy of Russia’s Su-35 fighter jets. The outgoing US president as soon as dubbed Sisi his “favorite dictator” and heaped reward on the Egyptian regime, regardless of its huge human rights abuses and a seemingly stalemated counterinsurgency effort within the Sinai.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper reportedly warned Egyptian officers in 2019 that buying the Su-35s might set off financial sanctions and restrict future protection offers with Washington. The administration has held off on such penalties to this point.