Reuters – The United States said on Tuesday it will deliver 10 Apache attack helicopters to Egypt, relaxing a partial suspension of aid imposed after Egypt’s military ousted President Mohamed Morsi last year and cracked down violently on protesters.
“We believe these new helicopters will help the Egyptian government counter extremists who threaten US, Egyptian, and Israeli security,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement, recounting Hagel’s conversation with Egyptian Defence Minister Colonel Sedki Sobhi.
One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no other military aid beyond the Apaches, built by Boeing Co. , was being freed up at the moment. That meant that delivery of other hardware, like F-16 fighter jets produced by Lockheed Martin Corp, remained on hold.
In a call with Egypt’s foreign minister, Kerry “urged Egypt to follow through on its commitment to transition to democracy – including by conducting free, fair, and transparent elections,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Still, the move to free up the delivery of the Apaches underscores the importance that Washington places on ties with Egypt, which for decades has been among the largest recipients of US military and economic aid because of its 1979 peace treaty with US ally Israel.
“I have continued to advocate for Egyptians to have the tools necessary to stabilize the economy and keep the country secure, including equipment that assists with counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai,” Granger said in a statement.
Still, the US move may stoke concern among rights advocates. Human Rights Watch earlier this month cautioned Washington against resuming military assistance until the Egyptian government ended alleged rights abuses and held violators accountable.