The US will supply Egypt
with 20 F-16
fighter jets as part of a billion dollar aid package,
FoxNews reported. The first four jets will be delivered on January 22, after undergoing examinations in Fort Worth, Texas.
The deal was signed in 2010 during the reign of Hosni Mubarak.
But given the political instability sweeping the country, some have begun to wonder whether it is wise to donate fighter jets to an already 200 strong air force fleet.
American taxpayers should no longer be Egypt’s arms supplier (Photo: AFP)
Quoting Malou Innocent, a foreign policy expert, FoxNews said: “Should an overreaction (by Egypt) spiral into a broader conflict between Egypt and Israel, such a scenario would put US officials in an embarrassing position of having supplied massive amounts of military hardware … to both belligerents.” The report added that: “Given Washington's fiscal woes, American taxpayers should no longer be Egypt’s major arms supplier.”
Republican Congresswomen Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwomen of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, criticized the military aid to Egypt. “The Obama administration wants to simply throw money at an Egyptian government that the president cannot even clearly state is an ally of the United States,” she said.
On the other hand, Pentagon spokesperson Col. Wesley Miller remarked, "The US-Egypt defense relationship has served as the cornerstone of our broader strategic partnership for over thirty years.
"The delivery of the first set of F-16s in January 2013 reflects the US commitment to supporting the Egyptian military's modernization efforts. Egyptian acquisition of F-16s will increase our militaries' interoperability, and enhance Egypt's capacity to contribute to regional mission sets."
State Department official Andrew Shapiro also argued in favor of the administration's plans to continue with military aid: “I know that the uncertainty over the Egyptian transition has prompted some in Congress to propose conditioning our security assistance to Egypt. The administration believes that putting conditions on our assistance to Egypt is the wrong approach, and Secretary Clinton has made this point strongly.
"Egypt is a pivotal country in the Middle East and a long-time partner of the United States. We have continued to rely on Egypt to support and advance US interests in the region, including peace with Israel, confronting Iranian ambitions, interdicting smugglers, and supporting Iraq,” he told FoxNews.
While Egyptian President Muhammed Morsi has nullified presidential decrees granting him far reaching powers, the new constitution is far from in being in place with its fate hinging on the political tensions between the pro-Morsi Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and the liberal and left wing opponents.
Ongoing protests have prompted Morsi to allow police forces to arrest protests, though he stresses that such a move is only temporary. On Sunday a much anticipated constitutional referendum is scheduled to be held.