United States re­leases mil­i­tary aid to Egypt cit­ing na­tional se­cu­rity

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY NE­DRA PICK­LER

U.S. 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 White House said Obama no­ti­fied Egyptian Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah el-Sissi in a phone call Tues­day that the U.S. would be send­ing 12 F-16 fighter jets, 20 mis­siles and up to 125 tank kits, while con­tin­u­ing to re­quest US$1.3 bil­lion in mil­i­tary as­sis­tance for Egypt. The White House said that would make Egypt will re­main the sec­ond- largest re­cip­i­ent of U.S. for­eign mil­i­tary fi­nanc­ing world­wide.

The funds were suspended 21 months ago when el-Sissi, then mil­i­tary chief, over­threw Egypt’s first demo­crat­i­cally elected lead- er, 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 U.S. has been pro­vid­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions in coun­tert­er­ror­ism as­sis­tance to its ally, which didn’t stall as a re­sult of the gov­ern­ment over­throw. Egypt has been ar­gu­ing it needs the money to face grow­ing threats from ex­trem­ists creep­ing over the bor­der from law­less Libya or op­er­at­ing in the Si­nai Penin­sula, and the U.S. sees the funds as crit­i­cal for sta­bil­ity in the volatile Mid­dle East.

The aid comes as Egypt is try­ing to play a lead­ing role in form- ing an Arab mil­i­tary al­liance that can fight ter­ror­ism in the re­gion.

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 White House said in Obama’s call to el-Sissi, he “ex­plained that th­ese and other steps will help re­fine our mil­i­tary as­sis­tance re­la­tion­ship so that it is bet­ter po­si­tioned to ad­dress the shared chal­lenges to U.S. and Egyptian in­ter­ests in an un­sta­ble re­gion, con­sis­tent with the long­stand­ing strate­gic part­ner­ship be­tween our two coun­tries.” The White House said Obama also re­it­er­ated U.S. con­cerns about Egypt’s con­tin­ued im­pris­on­ment of ac­tivists and en­cour­aged in­creased re­spect for free­dom of speech and as­sem­bly.

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