US urged to withhold military aid to Egypt in wake of Bob Menendez charges

Bob Menendez

Senator Menendez Indictment: A Closer Look at the Charges

Senator Bob Menendez has been indicted on a series of explosive charges, including corruptly assisting the Egyptian government. This indictment has triggered a renewed wave of pressure on US legislators to reconsider military assistance to Egypt.

Temporary Stepping Down

In response to the indictment, Senator Menendez temporarily resigned from his position as the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The charges against him, detailed by New York’s Southern District Court, involve accepting bribes, including gold bars, mortgage payments, and gifts. These were allegedly in exchange for misusing his influence and breaching his duty to benefit the Egyptian government.

Denial and Legal Stance

Senator Menendez has denied all wrongdoing, emphasizing the principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” a fundamental aspect of the legal process.

Close Ties to Egyptian Intelligence

The indictment sheds light on Menendez’s close relationship with members of Egypt’s intelligence services. They held meetings in Washington and Cairo to discuss the significant annual foreign military aid of $1.3 billion that the US provides to Egypt.

Biden Administration’s Response

In a significant move, the Biden administration withheld $85 million in military aid to Egypt, citing concerns about human rights violations. This decision, a notable reduction from previous years, faced criticism for overlooking Egypt’s troubling human rights record.

Backlash and Demands

Menendez’s indictment has triggered a furious backlash from Washington-based rights groups and lobbyists. They’re urging US legislators to withhold $235 million in previously approved military aid. The Washington-based Freedom Initiative, which focuses on political prisoners in the Middle East, has been vocal in criticizing Menendez, accusing him of prioritizing Egypt’s government and security services.

Egypt’s Influence on US Policies

The indictment alleges that the Egyptian government made significant efforts to improperly influence US law and policy. This has prompted calls for President Biden to demand accountability from Egypt and reevaluate the bilateral relationship.

Impact on US Foreign Policy

Seth Binder, advocacy director of the Project on Middle East Democracy, foresees a substantial impact on US foreign policy due to these allegations. He believes they will empower rights groups critical of the Biden administration’s evolving approach to Egypt. Initially, there were promises of “no blank checks,” but the relationship has since warmed.

Text Messages and Communication

The indictment includes details of text messages sent by Menendez to his wife, Nadine Menendez, which were then passed to Egyptian officials. These messages contained sensitive information about staff at the US Embassy in Cairo. Menendez was also accused of communicating with Egyptian officials via his wife regarding his approval of certain arms sales to Egypt.

Impact on US-Egypt Relations

The allegations against Menendez may strain US-Egypt relations and embolden rights groups critical of the Biden administration’s stance. Despite Biden’s initial promise of caution in dealing with Egypt, the relationship between the two nations has seemed to warm since he assumed office.

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