The U.S. apparently is rethinking its military support for Egypt in the light of the ongoing unrest there since the military takeover of the government. The Pentagon announced today that it will halt a planned delivery of four F-16 fighter jets that had been promised to the Egyptian air force, but still says they "remain committed the US-Egypt defense relationship."
Egypt is one of the largest beneficiaries of military and economic aid from the U.S., but all that support has been threatened by their military's decision to overthrow president Mohammed Morsi last month. Technically, the U.S. is supposed to suspend all aid to any country if the government is overthrown by a coup, which is why the Obama Administration has been very careful not to explicitly refer to Morsi's ouster using that word. They were also quick to point out that today's decision is not an admission that a "coup" has taken place, but merely that "we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time."
It also didn't help that General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the head of Egypt's army and the leader of the sorta-coup called for massive new demonstrations on Friday "to give me the mandate and order that I confront violence and potential terrorism.” By telling the people of Egypt that, "I’m asking you to show the world. If violence is sought, or terrorism is sought, the military and the police are authorized to confront this," Sissi has stoked fears that a new round of violence will be directed at the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamist supports, only this time with the tacit endorsement of the group currently ruling the country. The bloodiest incident since Morsi's arrest came on July 8 when 51 Brotherhood supporters were killed during a demonstration in Cairo.
The F-16s were part of a previous deal struck in 2010 that committed the U.S. to giving 20 fighter planes to Egypt over the next several years. Four jets have already been delivered and the next shipment of four was due later this year, but that is obviously now on hold.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.