Amnesty wants US clarity on Egypt arms shipment

Published Friday, March 16, 2012

Amnesty International has demanded clarity from the United States regarding the destination of an arms shipment supposedly heading to Egypt, the rights-group said in a statement on Thursday.

Amnesty fears Egyptian security forces could use the weapons to suppress protesters, violating human rights.

"Amnesty International raised concerns earlier today that if the weapons ended up in Egypt there was a substantial risk they would be used by security forces to commit serious human rights violations," the statement read.

The US confirmed it would not off-load the weapons shipment at Port Said, Egypt, where it is due to dock, but Amnesty is insisting Washington disclose the cargo's final destination.

"Amnesty International is urging US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to clarify who is the final recipient of the latest cargo and give an assurance that this and other US military cargoes are not going to any country where the recipients are likely to use the weapons to commit or facilitate serious violations of human rights," it said.

The London-based rights group also urged Clinton to halt US military aid for Egypt, currently at US$1.3 billion per annum, which is often used to purchase US weapons.

"Between 11 December 2011 and 5 February 2012, the Egyptian Procurement Office (EPO) of the Armament Authority, Ministry of Defense shipped a total of 349 tons of military and dual use equipment with a value of at least US$35 million supplied on seven US-flagged cargo ships, which are managed by American President Lines Maritime Ltd," Amnesty revealed.

US arms sales to the conflict-ravaged Middle East often come under criticism, with its major recipients often gross violators of human rights.

Israel – which is accused of being an apartheid state – receives US$3 billion in US aid each year, and is one of the few US allies in the world to be granted access to hi-tech American weapons technology.

The US is also a major supplier of arms to Arab dictatorships in the Gulf region, inking a US$60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia last year.

A US$53 million weapons sale to Bahrain remains on hold, but the Obama administration is keen on pushing the deal through despite resistance from Congress over the Gulf state's ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

(Al-Akhbar)

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