CAIRO — Egypt is moving away from democracy, stifling freedom of expression, arresting thousands for political dissent and failing to hold the security forces accountable for “arbitrary or unlawful killings,” the Obama administration has determined in a formal report to Congress.
The administration concludes in the same report that Egypt is nevertheless too important to national security to end the roughly $1.5 billion a year it receives in American aid, most of it military. But after making that conclusion, the report proceeds to recite a discordant litany of the Egyptian government’s abuses and failings, apparently seeking to stop just short of the kind of embrace Washington once gave the strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Quietly submitted to Congress on May 12 without public announcement, the report captures the awkwardness of Washington’s rapidly shifting views of Egypt: first backing President Mubarak, then the 2011 revolt that ousted him, and now rebuilding ties with a new strongman, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Western diplomats are increasingly seeking to make the best of their relationship with Mr. Sisi, the former general who led a military takeover here two years ago, deposing the elected president, even amid reports that his government is tightening its crackdown on dissent.