“My principal concern with the Obama administration’s approach to Egypt is they seem oblivious to the fact it is now in the hands of a regime that is deeply hostile to the United States and certainly poses an immediate threat, I believe, to our friends in Israel,” said Mr. Gaffney, who runs the Center for Security Policy. “Under those circumstances, it is alarming that they are continuing to arm Egypt in a way that can only exacerbate the threat.”
“There are two things that are troubling,” Mr. Gaffney said. “One is the sheer quantity of the weapons that these enemies of the United States have inherited, let alone those they will be getting if we continue to make arms sales with them. The second is the quality of these weapons.”
“Egypt is a pivotal country in the Middle East and a longtime partner of the United States. Its well-being is important for the region as a whole. We have continued to rely on Egypt for more than 30 years to support and advance U.S. interests in the region, including peace with Israel, confronting Iranian ambitions, and supporting Iraq. Preserving peace in the Middle East is a top regional priority as we look to support Egypt through its transition.”
An assortment of weapons
The political landscape in Cairo was far different in 1979, when Washington began arming Egypt with some of its best weapons. Egypt signed the 1978 Camp David peace accords with Israel and moved squarely into the U.S. camp on major national security issues.
Though at peace, Egypt’s generals decided they wanted big-ticket items just in case the nation went to war again with Israel. In 1988, Washington and Cairo entered a deal to produce the Army’s most lethal armored vehicle, the Abrams tank.
The Congressional Research Service calls the M1A1 contract the “cornerstone” of U.S. assistance, which goes deeper than tanks and airplanes.
The Obama administration briefly held up security aid last spring as a signal of concern for the treatment of Americans in Cairo and other human rights violations.
The aid has since resumed, and there has been no sign of another stoppage as Mr. Morsi consolidates power. His military should receive more F-16s and tanks next year.
James Phillips, a Middle East analyst at the Heritage Foundation, said one rationale for continuing the aid was that the leader of the country’s military stood as a strong counterweight to the Brotherhood.