The United States was prepared to deliver four F-16 Fighter jets to Egypt as recently as last week, but on Wednesday, July 24, the U.S. administration announced that there would be no delivery at this time.
The move is one that surprised few, as the U.S. administration had been far more favorably disposed to the recently ousted President Mahmoud Morsi than it has been to either President Hosnai Mubarak who was removed in the Tahrir Square Revolution in 2011, or to the current government leaders whose tactics have been viewed as heavy-handed.
“Given the current situation in Egypt we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s,” Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters on Wednesday. Little explained that the decision to delay delivery of the warplanes came from U.S. President Barack Obama.
The delay was relayed to Egypt’s army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in a telephone call by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier in the day.
Under a $2.5 billion deal signed in 2010, the United States is committed to providing 20 F-16 fighters to Egypt. Eight jets were delivered earlier this year and four more F-16s were due to be shipped over in coming weeks.
The Pentagon’s announcement that the F-16s would not be delivered at this time followed a decision made on July 19 by the British government to suspend arms exports to the Egyptian military.
Despite the decision to delay delivery, the United States plans to go ahead with a planned joint military exercise with Egypt known as “Bright Star.”
Egypt receives $1.3 billion in U.S. aid each year.
Meanwhile, the current Egyptian leadership continues on the path it began by ousting Morsi. The public prosecutor ordered the arrest of the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Wednesday on charges of “inciting violence.” And army chief al-Sisi called for nationwide protests, the purpose of which is to oppose “violence and terrorism.”
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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