Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Associated Press & Glenn Greenwald / The Intercept – 2015-04-01 01:02:06
US Ends Curbs on Military Aid for Egypt Junta
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(March 31, 2015) — Certain aspects of US military aid to Egypt were frozen in late 2013, following the summer military coup in that nation and the extremely bloody crackdown on supporters of the ousted democratic government.
The US was never particularly fond of the elected government in Egypt at any rate, and it seemed fairly reluctant to impose the curbs at all, which President Obama has today announced are being released to support Egypt’s regional wars against “extremists.” Reportedly he delivered the news to junta head Abdul-Fattah ElSisi personally.
Though the wars weren’t too directly referenced by US officials, they include Egypt’s attempts to install a military dictator of Libya, nominally to battle ISIS, and their involvement in the Saudi war in Yemen, which attempts to restore an ousted military dictator there.
The US aid includes 12 F-16 fighter jets and 125 tank kits, part of $1.3 billion in foreign aid provided by the US annually to the massive Egyptian military.
US Releases Military Aid to Egypt,
Cites /National Security/
Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune
(March 31, 2015) — 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 US would be sending 12 F-16 fighter jets, 20 missiles and up to 125 tank kits, while continuing to request $1.3 billion in military assistance for Egypt. The White House said Egypt will remain the second-largest recipient of US foreign military financing worldwide.
The funds were suspended 21 months ago when el-Sissi, then military chief, overthrew Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, 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 US national security.
The US 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 US 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 forming an Arab military alliance that can fight terrorism in the region. And it comes at a time when Arab nations have expressed concern about Washington’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, questioning whether the US is aligning itself with Tehran instead of its long-standing allies in the region, like Egypt.
White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the assistance will help address the growth of a group in Egypt, affiliated with Islamic State militants, that has attacked Egyptian soldiers and civilians.
The White House said it is not issuing a certification that Egypt has made progress toward democracy. Instead, the US said it is maintaining that the aid is in the interest of US national security.
The White House said Obama, during his call to el-Sissi, “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 US and Egyptian interests in an unstable region, consistent with the longstanding strategic partnership between our two countries.”
The White House said Obama also reiterated US concerns about Egypt’s continued imprisonment of activists and encouraged increased respect for freedom of speech and assembly.
“We will continue to engage with Egypt frankly and directly on its political trajectory and to raise human rights and political reform issues at the highest levels,” Meehan said.
Obama Personally Tells the Egyptian Dictator
That US Will Again Send Weapons (and Cash) to his Regime
Glenn Greenwald / The Intercept
(March 31, 2015) — Yesterday, the Egyptian regime announced it was prosecuting witnesses who say they saw a police officer murder an unarmed poet and activist during a demonstration, the latest in a long line of brutal human rights abuses that includes imprisoning journalists, prosecuting LGBT citizens, and mass executions of protesters.
Last June, Human Rights Watch said that Egyptian “security forces have carried out mass arrests and torture that harken back to the darkest days of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule.”
Today, the White House announced that during a telephone call with Egyptian despot Abdelfattah al-Sisi, President Obama personally lifted the freeze on transferring weapons to the regime, and also affirmed that the $1.3 billion in military aid will continue unimpeded. Announced the White House:
President Obama spoke with Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi today regarding the US-Egyptian military assistance relationship and regional developments, including in Libya and Yemen. President Obama informed President al-Sisi that he will lift executive holds that have been in place since October 2013 on the delivery of F-16 aircraft, Harpoon missiles, and M1A1 tank kits.
The President also advised President al-Sisi that he will continue to request an annual $1.3 billion in military assistance for Egypt.
But for those who think the US should not lavish vicious tyrants with arms and money, don’t worry! During the call, “President Obama also reiterated US concerns about Egypt’s continued imprisonment of non-violent activists and mass trials,” and “encouraged increased respect for freedom of speech and assembly and emphasized that these issues remain a focus for the United States.” To read that is to feel the sincerity and potency of those presidential words.
The move comes as the US is also heavily supporting the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, also involving some of the region’s worst tyrants (also known as: the US’s closest allies).
So the US is, as usual, standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the region’s most oppressive regimes, whose survival at least partially depends on the abundant US largesse they receive, once again provoking that age-old mystery: Why do they hate us?
Obama’s move is as unsurprising as it is noxious, as American political elites — from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright — along with the Israeli Right have been heaping praise on Sisi the way they did for decades on Mubarak. (“I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family,” said Hillary Clinton in 2009. “So I hope to see him often here in Egypt and in the United States.”)
Who is more tragically propagandized: those who actually believe that US foreign policy is motivated by a desire to spread freedom and democracy for women, gays, and human beings generally, or those who scoff with unbridled contempt whenever the suggestion is made with a straight face?
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