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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘military aid’

Putin to Visit Cairo, After US Abandons Ally Further

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to visit Egypt in November, the first Russian president to visit Egypt since Egypt lost the war with Israel in 1973, according to a report in Makor Rishon.

The visit will come on the heels of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Cairo in the beginning of November.

The presidential trip is part of a dramatic series of improvements in Cairo-Russian relations, clearly filling in the vacuum that the U.S. has almost inexplicably left behind.

The visit also comes following meetings between Jerusalem and Russia’s Foreign Ministry this week.

According to Sergey Vershinin, Russia’s director for Middle East affairs in their Foreign Ministry as well as Russia’s representative to the Quartet, Israel expressed deep concern about the the loss of U.S. aid to Egypt, and that if Egypt doesn’t find a new source of funding, the economic situation in the country will worsen and cause “instability”.

Vershinin said that Russia will be investing in improving Russia-Egypt relations, though he cautioned that it won’t return to the levels it was at under the USSR.

“We won’t be returning to the days of Aswan,” Vershinin said, referring to when Egypt began its romance and alliance with Russia, after the U.S. withdrew its offer invest in the Aswan Dam in 1956.

It may not return to those levels, but one certainly can’t deny the feeling of déjà vu.

Update: Egypt Wrongly Identified US Citizen Who Hanged Himself

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

An American citizen, now identified as James Lunn after Egypt said he was retired U.S. Army officer James Henry, hanged himself in an Egyptian prison cell Sunday after having been held for six weeks following a terrorist attack in the area.

Lunn who used his shoelaces to hang himself in his cell in the Suez City of Ismailia, one day after American consulate officials visited him. Egyptian officials had told him they were extending his detention by another 30 days.

Police arrested him on August 28 for violating a dusk-to-dawn curfew between El Arish and Rafiah, which straddles the Gaza border. Authorities then discovered he was carrying a map and some kind of undefined electronic device, shortly after terrorists killed five Egyptian policemen in a bomb attack. Egyptian police did not produce any evidence or charges connecting Henry to the explosion.

The only official comment after his suicide was statement by U.S. Embassy official in Cairo, who said , “A U.S. citizen prisoner in Ismailia died from an apparent suicide. The embassy is in contact with authorities regarding the case and continues to provide all consular services.” He also said that Lunn had not told Consulate officials of any mistreatment.

The suicide follows by one month the death of a French man at the hands of other prisoners, who killed him during severe beatings. Last week, two Canadians in the area were beaten up by police officials. They were preparing a documentary about Gaza doctors,

Sunday’s suicide may complicate matters for the regime, which already faces cuts in military aid form then Obama administration because of its failure to advance new elections following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi, although he was voted into office in free elections a year ago.

Report: Israel Seeking More US Military Aid

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Israel is seeking an increase in U.S. military aid because of increasing security needs and new US sales of advanced weapons to Arab nations in the Middle East, Defense News reported.

Israel is seeking a surge in future US Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants not only to support its growing security requirements, but to offset the impact of increasingly advanced US arms sales to other countries in the volatile region.

“Qualitative military edge (QME), which pertains to Israel’s ability to defend itself by itself against any combination of Mideast adversaries, was always implied but never explicitly linked to long-term U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) agreements or security assistance planning,” said Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller and undersecretary of defense.

Michael Oren, outgoing Israeli ambassador to the United States, told Defense News that “very large [US] contracts to the Middle East raise the question of armies having capabilities similar to our own and how we make sure we can maintain our QME.”

Sen. Leahy: Obama Secretly Suspended Egypt Military Aid

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), head of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, told The Daily Beast that military aid to Egypt has been temporarily cut off.

“[Senator Leahy’s] understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law,” said David Carle, a spokesman for Leahy.

If it’s done as required by law, why is the U.S. government keeping it a secret that it believes the regime change in Egypt was a military coup? If it is, indeed, temporarily suspending most of the military aid to Egypt, where is the public announcement that we don’t send money to governments that were installed by a coup?

After skewering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hard—through the good services of the NY Times—for his attempts to preserve stability in Egypt and the integrity of the peace treaty, now the administration is attempting to punish the naughty Egyptian generals, but without making a big deal out of it.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked on Monday about the suspended aid, and told reporters the aid is not officially suspended.

I suppose the Egyptians can use the officially unsuspended aid money the same way Israelis can live in the officially unfrozen homes in East Jerusalem…

“After sequestration withholding, approximately $585 million remains unobligated. So, that is the amount that is unobligated,” Psaki said.

I looked up “unobligated” and means funds that have been appropriated but remain uncommitted by contract at the end of a fiscal period. In other words, an I keep, you don’t get kind of relationship.

“But it would be inaccurate to say that a policy decision has been made with respect to the remaining assistance funding,” Psaki clarified.

In other words, I keep, you don’t get, but it’s not forever.

The Daily Beast quotes two Administration officials who explain it was the government lawyers who decided it would be more prudent to observe the law restricting military aid in case of a coup, while not making a public statement that a coup had taken place.

Bret Stephens, a deputy editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, wrote on Monday (A Policy on Egypt—Support Al Sisi):

“What’s realistic and desirable is for the military to succeed in its confrontation with the Brotherhood as quickly and convincingly as possible. Victory permits magnanimity. It gives ordinary Egyptians the opportunity to return to normal life. It deters potential political and military challenges. It allows the appointed civilian government to assume a prominent political role. It settles the diplomatic landscape. It lets the neighbors know what’s what.”

By taking the opposite approach, making it harder for the new Egyptian government to bring the internal conflict to a conclusion, the Obama Administration is promoting and prolonging chaos in yet another country. Which is why, I suspect, Senator Leahy has spoken to the Daily Beast in the first place, to stop this blind march over the cliff.

Middle East analyst Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress, told the Beast he thought the Administration was “trying to maintain maximum flexibility,” but he suggested that this horse is long out of the barn. “Egypt’s struggle has become so intense, polarized, and violent, and I worry that no matter what move the United States makes now, the competing power centers in Egypt might continue down the dangerous course they’ve headed.”

Unless, of course, the U.S. is making clear, with loud noises and a light show, that it supports stability in Egypt, and in order to hasten new elections, it will not suspend military aid to Egypt. In fact, with its financial and military might, the U.S. will do everything it can to restore stability and democracy in Egypt.

But that would require President Obama to get over the insult of the Egyptian nation ignoring his wishes and dethroning his favorite Muslim Brother president.

NY Times Blaming Israel for Egyptian Havoc

Monday, August 19th, 2013

The first outright finger pointing at Israel was published in the Sunday NY Times (Pressure by U.S. Failed to Sway Egyptian Military Leaders from Crackdown):

The Israelis, whose military had close ties to General Sisi from his former post as head of military intelligence, were supporting the takeover as well. Western diplomats say that General Sisi and his circle appeared to be in heavy communication with Israeli colleagues, and the diplomats believed the Israelis were also undercutting the Western message by reassuring the Egyptians not to worry about American threats to cut off aid.

Israeli officials deny having reassured Egypt about the aid, but acknowledge having lobbied Washington to protect it.

When Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, proposed an amendment halting military aid to Egypt, the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee sent a letter to senators on July 31 opposing it, saying it “could increase instability in Egypt and undermine important U.S. interests and negatively impact our Israeli ally.” Statements from influential lawmakers echoed the letter, and the Senate defeated the measure, 86 to 13, later that day.

The fact is, Israel—and the Saudis—are trying desperately to save America from its own delusions about a democratic Arab world springing forth with equality and freedom for all. Egypt’s neighbors are anxious about the possibility of a civil war in Egypt and understand that a firm government is the essential first step towards recovery from the events of the past three months and the past two years in Egypt.

But now, according to the way the NY Times sees the world on Monday morning, Israel is “Escalating Efforts to Shape Allies’ Strategy.”

The original headline, according to NewsSniffer, was “Israel Puts More Urgency on Shaping Allies’ Actions” and was modified twice since the earlier posting.

An unnamed Israeli government official told the Times that Israel is going to spend this week twisting European and American arms in an attempt to prevent them from pulling their support from the Sisi regime, even though his soldiers have been brutal in their treatment of the Muslim Brother demonstrators.

The official explained the Middle east realities in blunt terms: “We’re trying to talk to key actors, key countries, and share our view that you may not like what you see, but what’s the alternative? If you insist on big principles, then you will miss the essential — the essential being putting Egypt back on track at whatever cost. First, save what you can, and then deal with democracy and freedom and so on.”

And he added, even more bluntly:

“At this point,” the official added, “it’s army or anarchy.”

Speaking of anarchy, no one is certain that even with full Western support the Sisi regime would be able to withstand the onslaught of highly motivated, unafraid Muslim Brothers. While the army is bound by some modicum of restraint, the Muslim Brothers recognize no such boundaries. While about a thousand of their number have been killed, they have been joyfully burning down Coptic churches and murdering Egyptian Christians in the streets. Over the long haul, if the Brothers are not stopped effectively, they could wear down the regime and demoralize the army. That could throw Egypt into a full blown, Syrian style civil war.

In addition to it being a public relations disaster for the Obama Administration, as caring individuals like senators Paul and McCain rip the president mercilessly on his policy and call for cutting off $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt, there’s President Barack Obama’s injured ego. A project he began right after his election has collapsed right before his eyes, and despite all of his efforts to communicate his strong views on the matter (Sec. Hagel called Sisi 17 times), the Muslim Brothers revolution is no more.

“The violent crackdown has left Mr. Obama in a no-win position: risk a partnership that has been the bedrock of Middle East peace for 35 years, or stand by while longtime allies try to hold on to power by mowing down opponents,” the Times wrote on Sunday.

So now, it appears, the largely quiet efforts on the part of Netanyahu to communicate to Obama (the two are yet to speak directly since the start of the crisis) how crucial it is that American support—and the Egyptian-Israeli peace deal—remain intact, will be used to portray Israel as some kind of puppet master, goading the generals to shoot into the crowd.

Obama Scolds Egypt by Cancelling Joint Military Exercise

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the Egyptian security forces’ brutal campaign against Muslim Brotherhood opponents has convinced him to cancel a major joint US-Egypt military drill that takes place every two years and is a source of prestige to the Egyptian army.

“We want to sustain our relationship with Egypt [but] our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets,” he said.

Obama did not hint of a more severe reaction, such as reducing military aid to Egypt. GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a fierce critic of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, openly hinted that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is partly to blame for the violence in Egypt.

“As we predicted and feared, chaos in Cairo,” McCain tweeted. “Sec Kerry praising the military takeover didn’t help.”

U.S. Cuts Israel’s Military Aid by 5%

Friday, June 21st, 2013

The U.S. cut $175 million from the $3.1 billion dollars of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) it supplies Israel, as part of across the board cuts in international military aid, according to a report in Ma’ariv.

Ambassador Michael Oren said Israel would not be asking for an exemption from the cuts, and that Israel would carry its share of the burden.

Most of the US military aid must actually be spent in the US, with purchases from U.S. companies recognized by the Department of Defense as authorized military contractors.

Israel is one of the largest recipient of FMF funding.

Some in Israel believe that the FMF funding is not a good thing, and in fact limits and restricts Israel’s ability to develop and sell its own military projects, by restricting development and sales to projects that don’t significantly compete with U.S. military sales.

It’s not yet clear what purchases will be cut from the budget, but it may affect the purchase of the controversial F-35 stealth plane.

The cuts in general will negatively affect U.S. military activities overseas, as well as possibly reduce joint training exercises with Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/u-s-cuts-israels-military-aid-by-5/2013/06/21/

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