By Dave DeCamp / Antiwar.com
The US will withhold $85 million in annual military aid to Egypt and redirect some of the funds to Taiwan, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The $85 million the US is withholding over human rights abuses is just a small portion of the $1.3 billion in military aid Egypt receives from the US each year.
The $85 million is in the form of Foreign Military Financing, a State Department program that gives foreign governments money to purchase US arms. According to CNN, Egypt receives $1 billion in FMF annually, and $320 million of those funds is conditional and tied to human rights issues.
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Some members of Congress want President Biden to withhold the full $320 million, but for now, the administration has only announced its intention to transfer $85 million. Of that amount, $55 million will be redirected to Taiwan, and $30 million will go to Lebanon.
The US began providing Taiwan with military aid this year, an unprecedented form of support in the era of normalized US-China relations. Since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 to open up with Beijing, the US has sold weapons to Taiwan but never financed the purchases or provided arms free of charge until this year.
Last month, the US approved the first-ever FMF military aid package for Taiwan worth $80 million. In July, the Biden administration provided Taiwan with a weapons package using the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) for the first time.
PDA allows President Biden to send weapons directly from US military stockpiles and is the primary way he’s been arming Ukraine. The PDA package for Taiwan was worth $345 million. The contents of the military aid packages for Taiwan have not been disclosed.
The US military aid for Taiwan has enraged China as Beijing opposes all forms of US military support for the island, especially new kinds of assistance. The US is arming Taiwan in the name of deterrence, but the policy is making war more likely as China has responded to the growing diplomatic and military ties between Washington and Taipei by putting the island under increasing military pressure.
Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.