As he arrived into Cairo on Wednesday, a top US general stressed “very substantial” military assistance to Egypt in the aftermath of President Joe Biden’s decision to slash $130 million in military aid to the nation over human rights concerns.
The unusual US rebuke of a geostrategic partner that controls the Suez Canal came in response to Egypt’s refusal to address particular human rights-related concerns, which Washington has never publicly described. According to activists, the US criteria included the freeing of political prisoners.
General Frank McKenzie, the highest American military officer in the Middle East area as head of US Central Command, emphasized rights concerns in remarks to media soon before landing.
McKenzie further emphasized that the drop in military support announced on January 28 was only a small portion of the $1.3 billion granted by the US to Egypt.
“It’s a pretty little amount in comparison to the quantity of other money in play.” “But I believe it’s meant to be a signal,” McKenzie explained.
“We still have a very significant weapons program with Egypt, and we’re still extremely involved with them,” McKenzie noted.
McKenzie, the most senior US official to visit Cairo since Washington announced the assistance cut, has stated that the US will not back down from its human rights concerns in negotiations with Egypt.
“At the (military) level, we must be open and honest with each other about the issues that might impact the connection.” Clearly, there is an element that might have an impact on the connection,” McKenzie said.
According to US authorities, the US relationship with Egypt is complicated. The Arab world’s most populous country is an important ally and a crucial voice. US military authorities have long emphasized Egypt’s involvement in speeding the transit of US warships via the Suez Canal and permitting American military aircraft overflight.
The news of the aid cut by the Biden administration was hailed by rights organizations. However, some regarded it as only a slap on the wrist because it came so soon after the US approved a $2.5 billion arms deal for air defense radars and C-130 Super Hercules transport planes.
Despite longstanding links to the US military, Egypt has tried to diversify its supplies of armaments since former US President Barack Obama suspended delivery of some military aid to Egypt following the toppling of former President Mohamed Mursi in 2013.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Egypt’s purchases of armaments from Russia, France, Germany, and Italy have increased.
According to US authorities, any big arms purchase from Russia might result in US penalties under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.
“My message will be the inherent superiority of US (weapons) systems and our desire to preserve a close alliance with Egypt, which would be harmed if they performed significant military sales to Russia,” McKenzie added.