Obama lifts hold on U.S. military aid to Egypt

President Barack Obama on Tuesday released military aid to Egypt that was suspended after the 2013 overthrow of the government, in an effort to boost Cairo’s ability to combat the extremist threat in the region. The funds were suspended 21 months ago when Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, then military chief, overthrew Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. But Washington could not provide almost half of the annual aid package — along with assistance held up from previous years — until it certified advances by el-Sissi’s government on democracy, human rights and rule of law or issued a declaration that such aid is in the interests of U.S. national security. The White House said it is not issuing a certification that Egypt has made progress toward democracy. Instead, the U.S. said it is maintaining that the aid is in the interest of U.S. national security. The aid comes as Egypt is trying to play a leading role in forming an Arab military alliance that can fight terrorism in the region.