ethiopiantimes

July 12, 2011

Egypt requests tanks from the United States,why now?

Filed under: Egypt — ethiopiantimes @ 4:30 pm

CAIRO: On July 1, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) informed the US Congress of a possible foreign military sale of 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits to the Egyptian government. The sale, which was requested by the government of Egypt, would cost an estimated $1.329 billion, if it takes place.

According to the DSCA press release, the sale would “[help] to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”

It would provide Egypt with a modern tank fleet, better enabling the country to counter threats and improve the ability of the Egyptian military to work with the U.S. and other allies. “There will be no adverse impact on US defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale,” concluded the press release.

The timing and wisdom of the proposed sale of 125 tank kits to Egypt has come under criticism in the US and abroad, as the situation in Egypt is still precarious, not to mention that there is no guarantee that next government will be aligned with us interests.

Protesters continue to occupy Tahrir Square, having moved back in on Friday to voice frustrations at the slow progress of trying Mubarak regime officials, postponement of trials, the acquittals of Ahmed al-Maghrabi, Anas al-Feky, and Yousef Boutros Ghali last week, civilian protesters being tried in military courts, among other grievances.

Many commentators, Egyptian, American, and otherwise, predict that the Muslim Brotherhood would do well in the scheduled September elections, and have lobbied for the elections to be postponed in order to give other parties the opportunity to organize and campaign on more equal footing.

In an interview with the Washington Times last week, Ahmed Ezz al-Arab, the vice chairman of one of

Egypt’s leading secular parties, al Wafd, denied the Holocaust and claimed that 9/11 was an inside job. Indeed, it is difficult to predict what the next Egyptian government will look like.

Last Friday’s protests could foreshadow the shape of compromises to come in Egyptian politics. In pursuit of national unity and maximum participation in the protests, liberal parties and revolutionary youth movements curtailed their demands for a complete departure from the Supreme Military Council’s roadmap for transition and the adoption of a completely new constitution before any elections take place.

The “Revolution First” statement issued by a coalition of liberal parties prior to the July 8 protests called for rights, reforms, justice, and transparency, but not, notably, a constitution.

US and Egyptian Military Cooperation

Egypt’s current request does not come without precedent; according to army-technology.com, Egypt submitted a request for the foreign military sale of 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits in 2007, which would bring the total number of M1A1 Abrams tanks in Egypt’s arsenal to 1,005. The final deliveries associated with this order are scheduled to be completed this month.

The DSCA, which reports to both the Department of State and the Department of Defense, oversees military Foreign Military Sales (FMS), or the sale of “U.S. defense equipment, services, and training ”from the US Government to foreign governments, according to its website. These sales are conducted on a “no-profit and no-loss basis,” in order to enhance relationships between the U.S. and friendly foreign nations and further U.S. interests. Foreign governments can also negotiate sales directly with US defense contractors via Direct Commercial Sales (DCS).

According to DCSA reported figures, foreign military sales to Egypt have amounted to over $1 billion for seven out of the ten years between 2000 and 2009. To put things in perspective, in 2009 foreign military sales to Egypt represented seven percent of worldwide FMS, which amounted to over $12.5 billion. In 2008, FMS and DCS combined amounted to over $45 billion, of which FMS and DCS to Egypt represented only two percent of total worldwide US arms and defense equipment sales.

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