(Photo Courtesy of US Air Force)
Early this morning, the U.S. sent four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt as part of a foreign aid deal that the U.S. signed in 2010 with then Egyptian-President Hosni Mubarek. An additional sixteen F-16s and 200 Abrams tanks are to be given to Egypt before the end of the year. The new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who was elected during the summer of 2012, has given mixed signals regarding his relations the U.S. and its allies. President Morsi stated, “Dear brothers, we must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them. They must be nursed on hatred. The hatred must continue.”
Republican Representative Louie Gohmert stated, “It is appalling that the Obama administration would send F-16s and 200 military tanks to Egypt in the wake of the instability, and the anti-American and anti-Israel atmosphere.” There is major fear that arming Egypt in such a way could have vicious repercussions in the years to come and could aid a much unwanted arms race.
This foreign aid deal tops $1 billion of U.S. taxpayer money. Gohmert claimed, “My hope and prayer is that someone in this administration will wake up and smell the burning of Israel’s future and rescind the supply of planes and tanks.”
Republican Representative Vern Buchanan stated, “American tax dollars must not be used to aid and abet any dictatorial regime that stands with terrorists.” Fox News reported that as much as 80% of Egypt’s Defense Ministry’s weaponry comes from U.S. aid. A spokesperson for the Obama administration said the U.S. seeks to “maintain a strategic partnership with Egypt that enhances the security and peace of the region.” Those supporting the aid package harp on the importance of Egypt not just regarding Israel, but also because Egypt controls the Suez Canal, “a vital staging point for U.S. operations in the gulf.’
The strongest argument in support of the aid package is that F-16s are incredibly sophisticated systems that depend on U.S. manufacturers for use. No other nations supply F-16 fighter jets. An F-16 can range over 500 miles and can fire its weapons with tremendous precision. Supporters imply that without U.S. maintenance, F-16 fighter jets will not ‘likely’ be used against the U.S. or U.S. allies.
What do you think about the U.S. giving over $1 billion of modern weaponry to a new Egyptian government that has yet to gain the trust of the U.S.? The deal was signed with the former President, with whom the U.S. had an alliance. While observing the new Egyptian President’s views of Israel and Zionists and Jews in the Middle East, does this foreign aid package seem strategically sound? Is there risk of Egyptians learning to use the F-16s without U.S. assistance, possibly causing major destruction in the Middle East? I understand that the Obama administration knows much more about U.S.-Egyptian relations than I do, but part of me cannot help but ask, four F-16s, are we F-16-ing crazy?
This article immediately reminded me of the U.S supplying arms to the Afghanis to stop the Soviet Union in the 1980’s. What happened? Well those same Afghanis were using those same weapons to shoot and kill U.S soldiers after 9/11. This type of aid is, for lack of a more sophisticated term, a crapshoot.
On one hand, the U.S. is arming a regime that it knows little about and that, from President Morsi’s statements, wants to “nurse” the children of Egypt on hatred of Israel and its supporters i.e the U.S. There is, however, always the fear of the unknown. The U.S. has a frenemy in President Morsi. President Obama or Secretary of State Clinton/Kerry can pick up the phone and call him. Supporting him and his forces keeps Morsi in power and thus lowers the risk of a coup d’etat by someone they do not want in power. To paraphrase Sun Tzu : Know your enemy.
The Suez Canal has always been a pawn. In 1956, Egyptian President Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal in response to the U.S withdrawing funds for the Aswan Dam because of Egypt’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China and ties to the Soviet Union. This led the U.K./France/Israel to begin military intervention which essentially failed due to the lack of support and diplomatic action by President Eisenhower and the U.N. Closing the Canal once again would be a tremendous burden, as the article states, to U.S. operations in the Middle East.
To address Patrick’s question, I never underestimate anyone’s intelligence when they have a goal. If the F-16’s prove to be a vital part of Egypt’s military power, they will find a way to operate and maintain them. Why request/purchase something you are not going to be able to use?
Mr. Dowdle and Mr. Paliotta bring up a number of great points regarding the recent actions by the United States. The first major conflict I see however is what the consequences are if we were to rescind on a deal that was signed in 2010. We gave our word and signed an agreement with a nation with whom we supported their democratic elections. Now that a leader gets elected that we do not support, we would seek to break our deal? Why would any democratic nation trust us again in negotiations where arms are involved if this is the way we do business? Countries in the future would want their arms first before taking any action that we are negotiating for. That could take years. On top of that, rescinding our deal would make it very clear to Egypt that we do not trust them and put further strain on our already shaky alliance.
The second conflict that I see is what alternative we have with ensuring Egypt stays allied to us. These advanced military weapons are like getting a cell phone for the first time, eventually you become dependent on it. Egypt’s military force becomes stronger and more advanced than ever and no other nation in the immediate area will look to harm it. Egypt will enjoy that strength and security and eventually become dependent on it. Then they become dependent on us to keep them that way with either maintenance or more advanced weaponry. While Egypt may not like us, they will need us and so will ally with us or we not only stop maintaining and selling them advanced weaponry, we sell to their enemies to remind Egypt that without big brother, Egyptian sovereignty is not guaranteed.