On July 11, the United States delivered its clearest message that it had made its peace with the military takeover in Egypt. Barely a week after President Mohammed Morsy was forced from office and three days after the army fired on pro-Morsy protesters, killing 54 of them, White House officials approved the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to the Egyptian military.
Now, Washington is making a U-turn. The Pentagon confirmed today that that the delivery of the fighter jets would be delayed due to the "current situation" in Cairo. "We do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s," said Defense Department spokesman George Little.
An anonymous Pentagon official went even further, telling the New York Times that the move was meant as "an inside fastball to the military." The official also warned that trying to "break the neck of the Brotherhood is not going to be good for Egypt or for the region."
So what does the U.S. government know about Egyptian politics today that it didn’t know on July 11? One major red flag came today: Gen. Abdel-Fatah al-Sissi, the defense minister and commander of the armed forces, delivered a speech calling for mass demonstrations on Friday "to give me the mandate and order that I confront violence and potential terrorism."
Since Morsy’s fall, Egypt has been the victim of a number of terrorist attacks: A device exploded in the city of city of Mansoura on Tuesday night, killing one soldier, while a string of attacks on Monday claimed the lives of six Egyptians. But there is near-universal support within Egypt for cracking down on the extremists who conduct such attacks — leading to speculation that Sissi is actually asking for permission to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood. Since the military takeover, anti-Morsy figures have increasingly used such language to tar their political opponents: Just today, the spokesman for interim President Adly Mansour announced, "Egypt has begun a war on terrorism."
Ironically, just as the new Egyptian government appropriates the language of U.S. politics, the Pentagon is getting cold feet about the direction that Cairo is heading in.
U.S. to Egypt: We heart you but we’re keeping our $560m; Fisher House to the rescue; What the duck-rabbit says about snatch-and-grab; Missing October 7; Marines: “the failure of the few” and a bit more.Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |
Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge.| Dispatch |