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Get to the Chopper
US Delivers Apaches to Egypt

The U.S. has delivered 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt following a year-long delay. The delivery was put on hold following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi and has been a major sticking point in American-Egyptian relations ever since. As the New York Times reports:

The United States announced in April that it had decided to lift its hold on the delivery of the attack helicopters. […]

The Pentagon said in September that the United States would deliver the helicopters, built by Boeing, to support Egypt’s counterterrorism efforts. […]

In another sign of improving relations between the countries, Robert Stephen Beecroft, the new American ambassador to Egypt, arrived in Cairo on Thursday. The previous ambassador left the post more than a year ago, after Mr. Morsi’s ouster.

President Sisi has made a point of mentioning the helicopters as an impediment both to Egypt’s own counter-terrorism efforts and its bilateral relations with the U.S. As he said in an interview with Charlie Rose when asked if Egypt would support the strikes on ISIS: “Give us the Apaches and the F16s that you have been suspending for over a year and a half now.”

Nonetheless, despite removing an obstacle to improved ties with Egypt, the original condition for restoring military aid when it was suspended in October of last year was “credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections.” Sisi’s election, in which he garnered 96% of the popular vote, was described by his opponent as “an insult to the intelligence of the Egyptians.”

Nor have other facets of Egypt’s human rights record improved over the past year. The interior ministry announced yesterday its year-end totals for political arrests. From a different article in the Times:

Egyptian security forces have detained nearly 10,000 people suspected of being militants, rioters and others wanted in violent attacks over the past 12 months in a crackdown that a senior Interior Ministry official said Saturday was aimed at those trying to curtail Egypt’s development. […]

General Osman said security forces had foiled about 400 terrorist attacks since January. He said the security forces had also arrested 460 suspected members of terrorist cells, 6,400 rioters, 50 wanted militants and about 2,600 people accused of attacking police stations.

As we’ve said before, the lack of a coherent U.S. policy on Egypt means we have no good options. The maneuver we’re left with—in which we work with Sisi’s illiberal government while holding our noses in disgust—displeases everyone. It makes the United States look hypocritical on human rights issues while pointlessly infuriating the Egyptian regime. But since Wilsonian moralism will always be part of American foreign policy, this helicopter delivery was bound to be only the beginning of an irritable friendship.

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  • Pete

    Irony. A ragtag country with F-16s.

    What do such high tech jets have to do with fighting Islamic terrorism? Nothing — zero, zip, nada.

    • JR

      Sorry Pete, have to disagree with you there. Egyptian Army is a force for stability in a very unstable region. They have a tacit approval of both Saudis and Israelis to fight MB and its offshoots in both Egypt and Lybia. Are they good guys whose methods would pass the scrutiny of the Bryn Mawr Gender Studies department? No. Does it matter? No

    • f1b0nacc1

      One can argue about the utility of F-16s for Egypt (remember, most of those sales were closed when they were facing threats from Libya which had a credible air force…sort of…), but the Apaches are excellent tools to use against Islamists.

  • qet

    I thought we weren’t going to do make-believe foreign policy any longer. I thought that the past 14 years had finally taught us that trying to stick-and-carrot other nations into adopting some variant of Potemkin democracy in order to appease our media and cultural elites is an abject failure and absurdity. I thought we had learned that effective foreign policy is not about being “pleased” (whatever that means) and that holding our noses is hardly a burden. In other words, even if you do hold that “Wilsonian moralism” will always be a part of our foreign policy, hasn’t it been sufficiently discredited recently that we can look forward to a decade or two without it?

  • Corlyss

    I didn’t think the Apaches were that much of a problem any more. I’d definitely consider deporting the chronically aggrieved and tiresomely noisy Lakota Sioux . . .

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