CAIRO: The Armed Forces refuted claims that the Egyptian military met with Israel to combine efforts to push forward a deal that would return U.S. Apache helicopters to Egypt, said military officials in a Saturday statement.
“The meeting did not discuss any potential military cooperation and only focused on coordination in communications between the two parties,” military spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Ali said in a statement released Saturday , available on his official Facebook page.
He denounced what was reported in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz regarding Israeli efforts to urge the U.S. to conclude a deal with Egypt, adding that he considers media sources to be unknown and not credible.
“A high-ranking official in Jerusalem said Israel clarified that supplying the helicopters is crucial to Egypt’s fight Against jihadist organizations in the Sinai, and will improve regional security,” Haaretz reported on Thursday. However, Ali denied Israeli media claims, explaining that those meetings are regularly held three times a year, to discuss safeguarding common borders, and it has been the case since 1982 as part of the Camp David Agreement.
The U.S. had rejected the supply of 10 AH-64 attack helicopters following a recent urgent appeal from the Egyptian government stating that the country needs them “for counterterrorism operations in the Sinai Peninsula,” Fox News reported on March 12.
According to David Schenker, director of Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the U.S. administration’s policy towards Egypt includes support in counterterrorism efforts, the delivery of Apaches falls under the deal as well, Free Bacon said on March 12.
Nonetheless, the U.S. halted it military support to Egypt last October and cut off aid following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.
On the other hand, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy stated that the helicopters were originally sent to the U.S. for maintenance and seized there, in an interview on MBC Masr Channel last Wednesday.
Schenker explained that Apache helicopters require frequent maintenance, which pushed Egypt to ask for the urgent supply of 10 helicopters. U.S. officials have blocked the entire operation since October. Now Egypt is claiming it demanded for the return of the helicopters, but the U.S. refused to comply.
“Despite the Pentagon’s positive stance, the White House interfered and obstructed in bringing those planes to Cairo,” Al-Fagr news quoted a military source as saying on Wednesday.
Many Egyptians have criticized the U.S. administration’s stance regarding the popular uprising of June 30 and even considered the U.S. a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The confiscation of helicopters that belong to the Egyptian state is an act of piracy and underestimates all Egyptians, and is an approval of terrorism,” wrote journalist Ibrahim Daoud in Youm7 on Saturday.