US delays delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Egypt

A scheduled shipment of four F-16 fighter jets from the US to Egypt has been delayed, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

“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 spokesperson George Little said in a statement.
The fighter jets form part of US annual military aid to Egypt.

The US Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee approved on Tuesday the US$1.3 billion military aid and $250 million dollar economic aid to Egypt, Reuters reported Wednesday.

The Democrat controlled Senate subcommittee agreed with the initial Obama administration proposal to renew the aid while the Republican led House of Representatives refused the $250 million economic assistance last week.

The House of Representatives and Senate should reach an agreement before the bill goes to President Obama for final approval.

US law prohibits any aid to countries that have witnessed a military coup. However, it is up to the Obama administration to define whether the recent events can be defined as a coup or not. The White House appears reluctant to antagonize an historical ally.

However, the Senate subcommittee still seeks to impose harsher conditions on the aid so that an inclusive democratic transition will be set in motion, splitting the aid package into four parts.

While the first part would be delivered without conditions, the next share would released on the condition that the Egyptian government supports an “inclusive” political reconciliation process and frees political prisoners.

The second half of the aid would be conditioned on the democratic presidential elections and the protection of women’s rights and the rights of religious minorities.

These debates show the unease in the US political sphere with regard to recent events in Egypt.

The US administration developed and maintained strong relations with the Egyptian military over the years and appears wary not to antagonize a major and stable ally. The military aid package has been a pillar of the Camp David peace treaty. Any unsettling of that historical deal could impact regional stability as the Egyptian military is seen as the major stabilization force of the strategic Sinai Peninsula.

However, several in Egypt have raised the call to end the reliance on US aid after the military forces ousted President Morsi on July 3 in the wake of historical demonstrations. The coverage of these events by major American television channels prompted strong criticism in Egypt.

Many anti-Morsi protesters accused the coverage of being unfair by describing the events unequivocally as a “coup” and underestimating the size and the motives of the popular uprising.


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