CAIRO: Following a meeting between Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and U.S. national security specialists last week, the U.S. State Department announced the resumption of U.S. military aid in the form of Apache helicopters on Tuesday.
Former Minister of Defense and presidential candidate Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi warned that if Washington is unwilling to help combat the Islamist militias in Sinai and the Jihadists in Libya, US and its European and Arab allies will remain under threat.
Sisi’s warning came during a two-hour meeting with U.S. national security specialists and journalists in Cairo, asking for Washington’s support, Fox News reported on Wednesday. On Friday, a US congressional delegation headed by Senator Paul Grove arrived Cairo.
Five days later, the U.S. State Department decided on Tuesday evening to unfreeze military aid to Egypt.
On Tuesday evening, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement that U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel informed his Egyptian counterpart Sedky Sobhy in a phone call that the U.S. will send Egypt Apache helicopters to support counterterrorism in Sinai, Reuters reported.
Since Former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster on July 3, U.S.-Egyptian relations have strained, especially after the dispersal of Rabaa al-Adaweya and Nahda Square sit-ins. The U.S. withheld significant military aid, including U.S. $260 million cash, F-16 aircrafts, M1A1 tank parts, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Apache helicopters, protesting the forceful dispersal of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins, CNN said on Oct. 9, 2013.
The withholding of the aid pushed Egypt to turn to Russia as a new potential ally, by improving bilateral relations and signing military deals between both sides.
Although the U.S. did not label Morsi’s ouster as a military coup, Senator Johan McCain referred to it as such, during a visit accompanied Lindsey Graham in August 2013. The statement provoked Egypt’s anger.
Moreover, since former U.S. ambassador to Egypt Ann Paterson was promoted to Obama’s aide for Near Eastern Affairs, an ambassador to Cairo has yet to be appointed. Marc J. Sievers assumed the duties of Chargé d’Affaires in Cairo on Jan. 21.