The US Department of Defense (the Pentagon) announced that the State Department had approved a possible deal to sell military equipment to Egypt of about $2.5 billion, while members of Congress called for maintaining restrictions on part of the American support for Cairo because of its performance in the human rights file.
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on Tuesday of this potential agreement, which includes two deals to sell military transport aircraft and air defense radar systems.
The US State Department stated – in a statement – that it had approved the sale of 12 C-130J Super Hercules military aircraft to Egypt, along with related equipment, at an estimated cost of $2.2 billion.
She said that this proposed deal “will improve Egypt’s ability to confront current and future threats, by providing air support to its forces by transporting supplies, equipment, and personnel.”
She added that the deal would support the foreign policy and national security of the United States “by helping to improve the security of a key ally… that remains an important strategic partner in the Middle East,” and noted that the deal would not change “the core military balance in the region.”
In another statement, the US State Department said that it had approved another possible deal at a cost of up to $355 million to sell air defense radar systems to the Egyptian government, noting that Egypt had requested to purchase 3 ground-based radars of the type “SPS-48” (SPS-48). , to assist them in dealing with air threats.
The US State Department’s approval comes despite Washington’s concern about Cairo’s human rights record.
Last September, the US State Department suspended military aid to Egypt worth $130 million despite it being included in the budget, due to the failure to achieve an improvement in the human rights situation in the country.
In early November, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urged Egypt during bilateral talks to make “concrete improvements in human rights.”
Objections in Congress
Members of the US Congress believed that Cairo had not yet fulfilled the conditions required to end the suspension of the $130 million disbursement.
The Chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Gregory Meeks and five Democratic members of the House urged the administration of President Joe Biden not to lift these restrictions if the Egyptian government does not comply with the standards set by the US State Department.
In a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, the legislators stressed the importance of making the human rights file an essential component of the US-Egyptian relationship.
The representatives added that despite their awareness that Egypt has taken steps in the past weeks to release political prisoners and individuals unlawfully detained, the Egyptian government must fully comply with the conditions set by the US administration and on time, according to the letter.
On the other hand, Agence France-Presse indicated that the US State Department’s approval of the possible military deal with Egypt comes about 3 weeks after the US authorities arrested a man in New York on charges of spying on Egyptian political opponents.