US to deliver F-16 aircraft to Egypt ahead of Kerry visit
by Cihangir Yıldırım
ISTANBULAug 01, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Cihangir Yıldırım
Aug 01, 2015 12:00 am
The United States will deliver eight F-16 Block 52 aircraft to Egypt as part of a military package, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said in a statement. The embassy's senior defense official in Cairo, Maj. Gen. Charles Hooper, said: "the F-16s provide a valuable capability that is needed during these times of regional instability ... a new tool to help Egypt fight terrorism." Egypt has over 200 F-16s but mostly from older production models. The aircraft boasts a more powerful engine and advanced weapons and sensors. The U.S. will deliver four more F-16s this fall.
Also, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will be in Egypt on Sunday to hold a "strategic dialogue." Despite Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's poor human rights record, in addition to leading a military coup that deposed a democratically elected president, countries including the U.S., Russia, Germany, France, Italy and several Gulf countries have continued to stand with him.
The U.S. delivered two navy vessels to Egypt, doubling Cairo's total fleet of fast missile craft to four in the last month. Ties between the U.S and Egypt were suspended after the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi. The impaired relations with the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama were restored with a new military assistance deal. Obama announced that the U.S. would provide $1.3 billion of military aid to Egypt per year. The U.S. military aid packet for Egypt also included 12 F16 warplanes, replacement kits for 125 Abram tanks and 20 Boeing Harpoon missiles. On the restored ties between Egypt and the U.S., Bernadette Meehan, the National Security Council spokeswoman, said in a statement that Egypt will remain the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign military financing following Israel. Meehan also underlined that the military assistance to Egypt is "in the interest of U.S. national security."
In February 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin also announced deals worth $3.5 billion between Egypt and Russia including the building of the first nuclear power plant in Alexandria. Boosting the natural gas trade, creating a Russian industrial zone along the Suez Canal and purchasing Russian arms were included in the deals. Russian Rostvertol Mi-35 attack helicopters are also part of the package. Egypt already has nearly 100 aircraft and the older Soviet-era Mi-8 helicopters, which have troop transport, cargo, signals-intelligence and attack variants, the latter equipped with 23 mm guns and a 500 kilogram capacity for bombs and antitank guided missiles.
In June 2015, Sissi made a visit to Germany to discuss aid for Egypt with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The $8 billion deal between Egypt and Germany included natural gas and wind power plants. German Siemens said that it would build over 12 new wind farms on the West Nile area comprising about 600 wind tribunes. Five prominent human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International urged Merkel to press the el-Sissi regime to end rights abuses. Sissi was also protested against by Egyptian medical student and journalist Fagr Eladly during the joint press conference, shouting "You're a murderer!" in Berlin.
In July 2015, Egypt received a delivery of three Rafale fighter warplanes, ordered as part of a $5.6 billion deal with France. Egypt ordered 24 warplanes in a deal announced by French President François Hollande last February. The deal also included an advanced naval frigate and military equipment including antiballistic missiles and surface attack capabilities.
In July 2015, Italy showed its support for Sissi. "I think Sissi is a great leader," Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said about the former military commander and current president of Egypt, who is widely seen as the architect of the 2013 coup against Morsi.
Since the coup, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has provided mass economic aid to Egypt. The UAE gave $6 billion and more than 22 billion dirhams ($80.8 billion) in cash and interest-free loans to guarantee fuel supplies and fund projects in health care, education, food, housing and transport.
According to HRW, at least 817 people were killed in Rabaa Square during the pro-Morsi and pro-democracy demonstrations. Over 1,400 people have been killed and 16,000 others have been detained in the crackdown since Morsi was overthrown by the Egyptian army, the U.K.-based Arab Organization for Human Rights reported.