US approves sale of transport aircraft and radar systems to Egypt

Jan 26, 2022: Despite concerns in Washington over Cairo’s human rights record, the State Department on Tuesday approved the sale of two major military equipment, including transport planes and radar systems, to Egypt.

Sales of the 12C-130J Super Hercules transport and accompanying equipment are worth $2.2 billion. The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement that the sale, which has not yet been finalized, was aimed at improving Egypt’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing airlift support for its forces by moving supplies, equipment, and people.

It added that the aircraft could also be used for maritime patrols and rescue missions. In another deal, Egypt could buy a $355 million ground air defense system to help it deal with air threats.

The agreements come despite ongoing unrest in Washington over the harsh treatment of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s political opponents, with rights groups estimating that there are about 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt. In September, the State Department withheld 130 million in military aid already budgeted for Egypt because of the lack of improvement in the country’s human rights situation.

And in early November, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Egypt in bilateral talks to make “strong and lasting improvements” on human rights.

For the current fiscal year however, which began on October 1, 2021, the Biden administration budgeted $1.4 billion in bilateral assistance — most of it military related — for Cairo, the same as the previous year.

Two lawmakers who have been critical of US arms sales to Egypt said Tuesday that Egypt has not met the conditions required to remove the suspension on the frozen $130 million.

“We welcome the recent release of several high-profile Egyptian political prisoners,” said Don Beyer and Tom Malinowski, co-chairs of Congress’ Egypt Human Rights Caucus.

The two arms deals also gained approval nearly three weeks after US authorities arrested a New York man accused of spying on political opponents of Sisi.

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