News / Middle East

Washington: Military Aid to Egypt Serves US National Security Interests

FILE - An Apache helicopter flies over Tahrir Square during a protest to support the army, in Cairo, Egypt, July 2013.
FILE - An Apache helicopter flies over Tahrir Square during a protest to support the army, in Cairo, Egypt, July 2013.
The United States is defending its decision to allow some military aid to flow to Egypt, despite concerns that the country's promised transition back to democracy has been anything but smooth.
Egyptian police in Alexandria respond to protesting students Wednesday with tear gas and buckshot.

Clashes like this one have some questioning why the United States is agreeing to send 10 Apache attack helicopters to Egypt.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said, “We’ve identified a very significant mutual national security interest. It is in our interest; it is in America’s national security interest for Egypt to continue battling terrorism in the Sinai.”

David Schenker, director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute, said the terror threat is a growing concern.

“The insurgency in the Sinai is booming. This is ungoverned space. The Bedouin and the residents of the Sinai have long been underserved by the government of Egypt.”

Schenker said the Apache is Egypt’s weapon of choice in fighting the growing numbers of al-Qaida-linked militants in the Sinai, but that Egypt may have found a way to help force Washington’s hand.

“They also have some Russian helicopters, and the notion that they’re going to go out and procure more Russian helicopters with Saudi money - something that they’ve said and that is said is currently being negotiated - also prompted the transfer right now,” he said.

Analysts say the move also could help ease tensions between Washington and Cairo, even as the U.S. pushes Egypt to follow through on the promise of free and fair elections.

As for assurances Egypt will not use the helicopters against civilians, the Pentagon’s Colonel Warren had this to say: “Well, we continue to dialogue with them [the Egyptians] and to ensure that they do obey.”

Warren noted the U.S. has turned down Egyptian requests to move ahead with transfers of F-16 fighter jets, M-1 tanks and harpoon missiles, which he said are not needed in the fight against terrorists.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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Comment Sorting
by: A. Badlawi from: Egypt
April 24, 2014 10:21 AM
hey America, what you don't understand is that Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization - it is Hamas, it is Al Qaeda, it is Islamic Jihad. They are want to kill you and Israelis and Canadians - what don't you understand? and i hear that Muslim Brotherhood was elected in Egypt - so what? Hamas was elected in Gaza!!! do you know what hell it is to live under Hamas Islamic rule? you think Gaza is a democracy? what are you stupid? look, America, if you don't like to face reality, stay out of the Middle East.
In Response

by: Dr Yasser Negm from: UK
April 24, 2014 2:40 PM
Your comment reminds me of this Egyptian woman in a video saying:
Listen your Obama...
Exactly the same mentality.

by: Khaled from: egypt
April 23, 2014 10:53 PM
Obama didn't give the helicopters for Egypt without being sure that we Egyptian are fighting against terrorist that will transfer later if they win in Egypt to Israel and to USA itself. Those people are bombing daily innocent people and they don't care about lives. As well Obama is quite sure that Russia is waiting to supply egyptians with weapons just to be inside the middle east again. We don't need helicopters to fight against Ethiopia unless the want to go for wars. We egyptians have enough problems and we are not interested in increasing them by going for wars.

by: Scott from: Chicago, USA
April 23, 2014 10:51 PM
In recent years, the US government has carried out an aggressive foreign policy of overthrowing democratically elected governments that don't toe the US line, and replacing them with unpopular but pro-US regimes. The US succeeded in overthrowing Egypt's first democratic government, an atrocity that put an end to the Arab Spring. In its place, the United States restored the old regime of the dictator Mubarak, although without Mubarak himself at its head. The Egyptian coup seemed like such a painless "regime change" that the US was led to believe that overthrowing Ukraine's elected government would be a similarly painless way to return a country to the US orbit. A bad bet. Far from simply undermining Ukraine's elected government, the US-backed coup has undermined Ukraine's continued existence as a country, as the eastern half of the country has risen up in secessionist revolt. In the long run, the undermining of Egyptian democracy will probably be seen as an equally disastrous anti-democracy exercise.

by: Sensi
April 23, 2014 10:06 PM
Simply shameful, the US can't stop themselves to be on the wrong side of history on so many foreign policies...

Keep on backing and funding military junta dictatorships, keep on allying with nauseous dictatorships like Saudi Arabia which are the major supporter and backer of Islamist fundamentalisms and Sunni terrorism worldwide, be an enabler and supporter of the Israel land-grabbing quasi-apartheid, veto every Palestinian legitimate rights at the UN, then dare to claim to be defending the so-called values of democracy and human rights.

The world will have to move on quickly from such a discredited and misleading "leadership", I don't specifically blame Obama as it is a long lasting bipartisan disease, signed on by cowards surrendering to lobbies, special interests or misplaced historical ties...

by: menelik from: united states
April 23, 2014 9:50 PM
The United States Government have made some dumb decision in the past, and like any government will make some stupid decision in the future, When it come to Egypt the United States have made the Egyptian military the number 1 military in Africa, now with a looming war between Ethiopia and Egypt the United States is Making one of the dumbest moves yet again. as an Ethiopian I see this as an act of Arming the Egyptian Military against Ethiopia, The Obama administration better stop and think whose side they stand by before it's too late, because Ethiopia will not loose a war against Egypt unless the United States gives Egypt a nuke, all these air craft being handed to the Extremist in Egypt will only contribute to more death and destruction when this war starts. the blood of Ethiopian warriors will be spilled thanks to US GVT handing over weapons to Egypt for apparently no reason. Obama better think long and hard about where he sticks his nose and what it will do to Africa, more blood being spilled will not benefit the United States in any way shape or form.

by: dale from: santa cruz mts
April 23, 2014 9:23 PM
Military aid to a military dictatorship that came to power through a violent coup and has made the most popular party in the nation illegal and killed hundreds of protesters.....................
is necessary because, like Hitler and Putin, the army is fighting terrorism.

This is the most bankrupt garbage ever proposed as a justification for giving money to the current Junta.

The way to create democracy is to destroy it. This works in Ukraine as well as Egypt and dozens of other nations in recent history. The US has funded and armed terrorists since day one.

State terrorism is the norm, and the US is the leader. We even arm our enemies. This supports the war economy, the Military/Industrial Complex and keeps the neo-cons in power.

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child..........
where can I go to find sane people?
Costa Rica?

In Response

by: Kamil Pallia from: USA
April 23, 2014 10:18 PM
you could go to GAZA... where everything you said makes perfect sense... by the way. we have an institution for guys like you - its called Guantanamo Bay...!!!

by: David Giles from: Michigan
April 23, 2014 8:43 PM
Fight them in Sinai and arm them in Libya and Syria. You want good relations with Egypt stop killing people all over the world. End the biased support for Israel.
In Response

by: dale from: santa cruz mts
April 24, 2014 9:14 AM
Fascists like Kamil think if you challenge American lies, you should be locked up without charges. Dissent is a crime! Put them in Gitmo!

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