The Middle East Channel

The U.S. moves forward with plan to send F-16s to Egypt

The United States is going forward with a plan to deliver four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt despite the current political crisis. The U.S. administration has been careful not to designate the removal of Mohamed Morsi from Egypt’s presidency last week as a coup, or by law Washington would have to suspend financial assistance. U.S. ...

KARIM SAHIB/AFP/GettyImages
KARIM SAHIB/AFP/GettyImages

The United States is going forward with a plan to deliver four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt despite the current political crisis. The U.S. administration has been careful not to designate the removal of Mohamed Morsi from Egypt’s presidency last week as a coup, or by law Washington would have to suspend financial assistance. U.S. defense officials said the jets, built by Lockheed Martin, would likely be sent in August. The delivery is part of a deal for 20 planes in total, eight of which were sent to Egypt in January. The Pentagon reiterated that the administration is reviewing U.S. assistance to Egypt, however "The delivery remains scheduled as planned." On Wednesday, Kuwait pledged $4 billion in assistance to Egypt in order to alleviate its failing economy, adding to the $8 million promised by Saudi Arabia and Qatar a day prior. Meanwhile, Egyptian prosecutors are working to detain Muslim Brotherhood leaders, accusing them of inciting violence outside the Republican Guard headquarters on Monday, which left 51 Morsi supporters dead. Additionally, signs of improving living conditions for many people in Egypt, particularly a sudden end to energy shortages and a reemergence of the police, suggest a campaign by the opposition to undermine Morsi while he was in power. 

Syria

The opposition Syrian National Coalition denied Russian claims that rebel fighters were responsible for a chemical weapons attack. At the United Nations, Russian envoy Vitaly I. Churkin cited evidence of sarin nerve gas likely used by Syrian opposition fighters. Spokesman for the coalition, Khalid Saleh said, "The Free Syrian Army strongly condemns all usage of chemical weapons against a civilian population." Anonymous Western diplomats on the U.N. Security Council said Russia blocked a draft resolution this week that would call on parties in the Syrian conflict to allow a U.N. team access "in order to conduct an objective investigation into reports of the use of chemical weapons." Russia had supported the statement in June during the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, but according to the diplomats Russia justified its opposition saying it was not the right timing. The United Nations has accepted an invitation by the Syrian government for talks on alleged chemical weapons use. The Syrian regime has offered to meet with Swedish scientist and lead U.N. investigator Ake Sellstrom and U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Angela Kane. Meanwhile, as fighting continues in Aleppo, many residents are protesting a rebel blockade of the government-held western parts of the city, accusing the rebels of causing severe food and medicine shortages. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, one protester was shot and killed during a demonstration on Tuesday, however the source of the fire was unclear.

Headlines

  • The Israeli military announced a restructuring plan Wednesday with plans to dismiss 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers however establish a new division in the Golan Heights on the border with Syria and Lebanon.
  • The exiled Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran says it has "obtained reliable information" on the construction of a new nuclear site in Iran, however the group has a mixed record.
  • The Libyan government has regained control of its interior ministry after an armed group seized the building in Tripoli last week.

Arguments and Analysis

Egypt in Year Three‘ (The Editors, MERIP)

"Was the gathering of millions in Egypt on June 30 the continuation of a revolution or the occasion for a coup d’état? The answer is ‘both,’ but the question is not the right one to ask.

There is, first of all, no necessary contradiction between the two terms. All of the revolutions in human history have involved the overthrow of heads of state by force or the threat thereof. The revolutionaries, whether they wield weapons themselves or not, must commandeer a portion of the state’s army or persuade the soldiers to lay down their arms. The French Revolution — the canonical model — took nearly a century to complete, during which period there were three republics with three different constitutions, two empires, two restored monarchs and plenty of interceding events that might be called ‘coups’ and ‘counter-revolutions.’ The Iranian revolution — closer to the Egypt of 2013 in space and time — has been ‘hijacked’ by authoritarian elements (or thus declared) several times over. Yet the upheavals in Iranian society that began in 1979 proceed apace.

In Egypt on July 3, the army deposed an elected president, arrested him and several other members of his party, closed down the media outlets sympathetic to him and set about installing a new government. On July 8, the army fired live ammunition on the ex-president’s demonstrating supporters, killing more than 50. These actions were flagrantly anti-democratic, and no one with a pluralist vision for Egypt can applaud them. As during its direct misrule in 2011-2012, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has torn a hole in the national fabric and set back the development of "normal" participatory politics. Yet there remains ample reason to believe that their coup is a moment in a long process of social and political transformation that will continue for years to come."

Gulf States Embrace Post-Brotherhood Egypt‘ (Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, Al-Monitor)

"The ousted Muslim Brotherhood’s mismanagement of Egypt extended into various fields, from the social to the political, but perhaps the area that concerns Egyptians the most is its bungling of the Egyptian economy. Prior to being elected, the Brotherhood repeatedly touted its so-called Renaissance Project for the development of Egypt. The plan, the result of years of studies Egyptians were told, was to be implemented in President Mohammed Morsi’s first 100 days.

The plan, however, turned out to be nothing but electioneering rhetoric, with Morsi having ‘fulfilled only four of his 64 campaign promises,’ according to one monitoring group. The Brotherhood government continued to assert its incompetence up to its final days, including the appointment of a member of Gamaa Islamiya as governor of Luxor, a major tourist attraction that was the scene of a bloody massacre perpetrated by the very same group 16 years earlier.

Why Egypt is such a pivotal ally to the Gulf states has been explored in earlier articles. From its sizable army to its strategic location, Egypt’s hard and soft power in Africa, the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East is hard to argue with. Nothing, however, brought this message home faster and more urgently than the rise of the Brotherhood in Egypt. One of the Brotherhood’s rare successes was the speed in which it alienated the Gulf Arab states. The Brotherhood’s overtures to Iran, culminating in a February visit by outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, raised alarm bells not only among the Brotherhood’s former Salafi allies, but also in Gulf capitals. Senior Brotherhood leader Essam El Erian, who served as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the now dissolved People’s Assembly, warned the citizens of the United Arab Emirates that they would become ‘slaves to the Persians.’"

–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber

 Twitter: @casey_mary

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