Cairo, Washington military relations face tests amid unrest in Egypt

January 30th, 2011 - 4:08 pm ICT by ANI  

F-16 Washington, Jan 30 (ANI): In the wake of the current unrest in the country, Egyptian military that is built with billions of dollars in American technology and training, is facing the biggest test in decades, allowing US officials to determine whether or not their funds have built an institution of social cohesion or one ready to turn on opponents of the current government.

The Washington Post quoted some Middle East analysts as saying that the massive amounts of defense aid that have made Egypt’s military one of the more effective forces in the would probably give the United States some critical leverage.

U.S. military aid to Egypt, which totalled 1.3 billion dollars in 2010, has held steady in recent years, even as aid for economic development, health and education has been cut. Aid to Egyptian police and riot-control forces, which amounted to about a million dollar last year, is minuscule by comparison.

“The military relationship has been sacrosanct. It is an important relationship for both countries, but it is not a relationship of soul mates,” Jon Alterman, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said.

In the recent time, however, America has said it might review aid to Egypt, and also cautioned the Egyptian military and President Hosni Mubarak that they have a great deal to lose if violence is used to keep the government in power.

According to Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who authored a law restricting aid to foreign governments that are guilty of human rights violations, a misuse of force could have very “serious consequences. They run the risk if they overreact of cutting ties with a country they need.”

Besides the billions of dollars in military equipment delivered to Egypt, Washington has spent millions of dollars in the past decade bringing Egyptian military officers to the United States for training and education, the paper said.

Despite that, the relationship between the two militaries has been troublesome in the recent past.

Documents released by the Web site WikiLeaks reflect sharp exchanges in the past year between U.S. and Egyptian officials over issues that include apparent violations of military-use agreements.

The documents also revealed that U.S. officials were upset about a visit by Chinese officers to an F-16 base, and they demanded reassurances that U.S. technology was being kept secure. Major General Mohammad al-Assar, assistant to Egypt’s defense minister, even went to the extent of warning U.S. officials not to put limits on U.S.-made aircraft and tanks in Egypt.

The cable, dated in February 2010, Assar “noted that the Egyptian military preferred to purchase its weapons and armaments from the United States, but that Egypt’s national security was a red line and they could go elsewhere if they had to.” (ANI)

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