Is Taiwan a greater priority for the United States than Egypt?

Is Taiwan a greater priority for the United States than Egypt?

The United States decided to shift security aid from Egypt to Taiwan because Taipei represents a greater strategic priority than Cairo and because the Asian island is an example of a democracy struggling against the pressures of authoritarianism (China). While Sisi’s presidency has made the North African country democratic in appearance only

The Biden administration has informed Congress of its decision to withhold $85 million allocated for US security assistance to Egypt this year, choosing instead to direct the majority of those funds to Taiwan. It is a change that reflects different American foreign policy priorities and interests.

Controversial transfer of funds

The decision to redirect $55 million from Egypt to “enhance Taiwan’s defense capabilities” marks the second instance in recent weeks in which the administration has authorized funds for Taiwan under the Foreign Military Financing Program, which is usually reserved for states/nations. It is a very important form of indirect state recognition of Taipei, and reminds us of the extent to which Washington is at this stage concerned with the fate of the self-governing island that Beijing claims as part of its territory – and on this basis it bases its diplomatic relations with various countries, and on the same basis the act of excluding it from international forums. Multilateral.

The growing importance of Taiwan

In late August, the State Department notified Congress that it intended to provide $80 million in aid to Taiwan in lieu of military equipment sales. The decision immediately sparked accusations that China violated US recognition of the “one China” policy and challenged Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over the self-governing island. The United States also signed up to the One China Policy – ​​the People’s Republic of China, which claims control over the Republic of China and Taiwan – and established diplomatic relations with Beijing on its basis. However, over the years, Washington has always maintained the so-called “strategic ambiguity”, never directly recognizing its ability to defend Taipei in the event of Chinese aggression, but allowing it to be understood. In recent years, the veil has been lifted somewhat from this mystery.

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Criticism from key senators

Senator Roger Wicker The Mississippi Republican senator, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized the reprogrammed funds as “insufficient to meet Taiwan’s self-defense needs” against the looming Chinese threat. He also condemned the administration for transferring funds from “another security partner,” saying that Egypt was receptive to the administration’s concerns about human rights. Capitol Hill is already a political battleground in light of USA2024, and some statements are also a result of that. However, Republicans want to convey that while they believe it is their duty to support democratic Taiwan against Chinese authoritarian pressures, it is also necessary not to be disillusioned. Abdel Fattah SisiThe Egyptian strongman, the president/general whom the Democrats have always had reservations about respecting the principles and values ​​he held Joe Biden They have become a vector of international politics.

The complex relationship between the United States and Egypt

The United States has long considered Egypt an important partner for Middle East security and regional stability. However, democratic stability in Egypt was constantly threatened, replaced first by harsh military rule and then by a strong presidential grip on power. The 2013 coup that ousted the last elected president, Mohamed Morsysupported by the then Obama administration after the Arab Spring, and led by Sisi, who is currently serving as president after emerging victorious from an unclear vote and ruling with a strong fist against his opponents.

Congressional pressure on human rights

Last year, Congress also ordered the administration to withhold $320 million of the $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt unless there were significant improvements in human rights. Wicker points out this: According to his observations, those changes have occurred. It should also be noted that in 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approved an arms sales package to Cairo worth $2.5 billion. Therefore, the issue of the eighty million dollars transferred to Taiwan is more symbolic than substantive, but it is no less important.

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Concerns about the human rights situation in Egypt

Eleven Democratic Senators, led by… Chris Murphy From Connecticut, he wrote to the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken In late July, it urged the permanent withdrawal of $320 million, citing deteriorating human rights in Egypt. Allegations of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, harsh prison conditions, and severe restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and association have been cited (and clearly documented). Well-known aspects of Sisi’s world. In a speech to the Senate, Murphy, who chairs the Senate Near East Foreign Relations Subcommittee, noted that while Egypt has released more than 1,600 political prisoners since the beginning of 2022, it has imprisoned more than 5,000 others. It therefore does not meet the criteria of “clear and sustained progress” in the release of political prisoners required by law.

Help Taiwan democracy

In this context, assistance to Taiwan becomes a dual message conveyed through the overarching theme of “democracies against tyranny.” On the one hand, he spoke in Cairo, explaining that the organized management of democratic power also bears fruit on part of American operational decisions. On the other hand, in Beijing, and always from the same perspective, it appears that Washington is not abandoning its desire to be the leader of the democratic front that maintains the world order, and against which the People’s Republic sets its own initiatives and model. .

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