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UK military delegation to Egypt seeks to strengthen ties as rights abuses worsen

A UK military delegation has just finished a three-day official visit to Egypt to reinforce bilateral cooperation, enhance joint training and enforce the armament partnership.

UK Chief of Defence Staff’s Senior Adviser to the MENA region Lieutenant General Sir John Lorimer and Air Marshal Martin Sampson met with top Egyptian defence officials from the Navy, Air Force and armament authority.

Sampson said that the cooperation is a reflection of mutual respect and ambition between the two countries.

Rights groups have continually called on the UK government to halt military cooperation with Egypt, in particular arms sales, in light of the severe human rights abuses taking place in the country.

Since the 2011 January revolution, the UK government has licenced $297.6 million worth of arms to Egypt and singled it out as a “core market” for arms sales.

Since General-turned President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s rise to power, Egypt has been fighting a war in the North Sinai Peninsula which has killed children, razed houses to the ground and forcibly displaced thousands.

The army forcibly breaks up protests across the country, most notably during the August 2013 Rabaa massacre when they killed some 1,000 demonstrators.

The UK has refused to leverage its arms sales to the country based on Egypt’s ability to abide by human rights, suspending arms licences to the North African state in the wake of the massacre and then reinstating the majority of them just two months later.

Egypt is living through its worst years in terms of human rights abuses. Political prisoners are forcibly disappeared, systematically tortured and the death penalty is soaring.

On the ten-year anniversary of the Egyptian revolution the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) called on the UK government to end arms sales and support for the Egyptian regime.

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