The American government prioritizes profit over democracy
The United States Tuesday turned around its relationship with Egypt on Tueday after it announced it lifted the existing weapons ban against Egypt, which means that the corporations of the military industrial complex are now able to deliver combat aircraft, missiles and tanks to the regime of Abdelfatá to Sisi.
The Obama administration froze the delivery of military equipment in October of 2013 as a punishment for the repression that took palce after the coup, led by General Al Sisi, who overthrew the first democratically elected president in Egypt. Needless to say that such a coup occured with the sponsorship of the United States government, which not too long after did the same in Ukraine.
A year and half later, the relationship between Washington and Sisi went back to being what it was before with Hosni Mubarak during the uprisings of the Arab Spring. According to official statements, the US wants to ensure the security of the Arab country in time of growing instability in the Middle East.
The statement cites the growth of a “jihadist threat” and sectarian tensions. Althought the US recognizes that democratic rule and respect for human rights are not taking place in Egypt today, it still sees the need to arm the undemocratic regime.
In recent months, Washington had already announced the release of financial and military assistance by sending ten Apache helicopters.
Obama and his Secretary of State, John Kerry, had met with al-Sisi, which was interpreted as an endorsement of the regime. During the coup of July 2013 against the Government of Islamist Mohamed Morsi, Al Sisi was the commander in chief and defense minister of a group that had the full support of the United States.
The US president has announced the decision on Tuesday after he telephoned his Egyptian counterpart, who had been pushing for the delivery of military equipment given what he said was a risk of “collapse” of their country. Obama said he would continue to ask Congress for authorization to grant Egypt $1.3 billion in military assistance on a yearly basis, which was also partially suspended after the coup.
Washington agreed to grant military aid to Cairo since the talks from Camp David in 1978. Those talks assured the US that Egypt would behave as its puppet regime in the region for decades to come. The US has used this agreement as a way to ensure its control of a strategic country in the volatile Middle East, which provides Washington with influence that it then leverages against neighboring countries.
A renewal authorized by the US Congress last year allowed the White House to begin providing financial and military aid to Cairo independently from al-Sisi’s lack of promotion of human rights or democracy. Instead, the new aid was justified on the grounds of national security and interest of the United States.
The White House announced Tuesday that with the new aid it does not intend to certify that Egypt is moving towards a more democratic system. According to the White House, Obama reiterated to al-Sisi his “concern” about the mass imprisonment of members of opposition groups.
“We encouraged greater respect for freedom of expression and assembly and stressed that the US remains focused on these issues,” said a statement from the US president. Obama back-pedaled from its October 2013 position which explained that blocking military assistance was intended to accelerate the Egyptian democratic transition.
In parallel to the delivery of 12 F-16 fighters, 20 Harpoon missiles and 125 Abrams tanks, Washington announced a change in the system for granting aid. From fiscal 2018, it will not allow Cairo to use financial aid to purchase US military equipment, and all aid will be limited to four areas: counterterrorism and border and maritime control and in the security of the Sinai. The questions that remains is, how exactly will the US enforce these conditions?
The objective of the US is to have “more flexibility” and “adapt” assistance to field conditions, according to a National Security Council at the White House. The intention is to ensure that funds are used for shared goals, “including a secure and stable Egypt and the defeat of terrorist organizations”. That is, Washington earns more control to hypothetical future tensions with Cairo and ensures that the aid is not used against opposition groups.