Arms to Egypt… Aid to a Potential Enemy, or Standing by an Old Ally?

Posted: November 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

Egypt has been receiving military aid from the U.S. since 1980, the year after the signing of the Egypt-Israel peace agreement. In that time, Egypt has received 240 F-16′s as part of an estimated $1.5 B sent yearly by Washington. The twenty aircraft to be delivered this year were pledged in 2009 when Hosni Mubarack still held the Presidency of Egypt. In Nov. 2011,a $395M contract was awarded to General Dynamics Land Div. to build 125 M1A1Abrams Tank kits, scheduled for delivery to Egypt by July, 2013.In January of this year, pressure was mounting to cancel these arms shipments. Senator Rand Paul(R-KY) in an amendment to the debt limit bill before the Senate, proposed a vote to block the measure on the grounds that, “It was foolish to send weapons to both sides of an arms race.” ( Egypt vs. Israel). Noting the extreme instability of the Morsi regime, the amendment was passed 79-19. Sen. Patrick Leahey (D-VT) rejected Paul’s amendment, calling it simplistic, harmful to U.S. interests and short sighted.. He then went on to explain that cancelling the deliveries would cause the loss of  “thousands of American jobs”  and cost  “…more than$2 billion in contract termination penalties for U.S. taxpayers”. While others opposed to the shipments voiced concerns over the potential use of these weapons against the U.S. or its allies, that fear was minimized by the fact that U.S. contractors are responsible for the maintenance and upgrades of the weapons systems. Without that support, the systems would soon fall into disrepair and be outdated, much like the F-14′s sent to Iran before the fall of the Shah. Other points that led to Leahy’s rejection of the Paul amendment were concerns over the  negative affects to future sales of military equipment, licensing and other assistance programs.

Eight F-16′s were delivered this past January, with four more scheduled for delivery in the coming weeks. The final eight are scheduled for delivery by the end of this year. President Obama and his administration have been extremely careful to not use the word “coup” to define the events now taking place in Egypt. To do so would trigger a legal requirement to suspend aid to the turbulent nation. Maintaining Egypt as an ally is crucial to American interests, Egypt controls the Suez Canal, allows U.S. military flights over its territory, and has been instrumental in maintaining peace in The Sinai, Gaza and other troubled areas of the region.

To this writer, it seems the bulk of the opposition to this arms deal stems from deposed President Morsi’s connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamist groups, his inability to manage his duties effectively, and also his anti-Zionist/anti-Jew statements were cause for great concern. With his removal from office, all eyes in D.C., in the world for that matter, are turned to the Egyptian Army. The steps they take to return Egypt’s governance to its people, and the time frame taken to accomplish that, will be the true test of whether the Egyptian military is a defender of its people, or their next oppressor.

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