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Obama expedites delivery of F-16s to Morsi’s Egypt

Special to WorldTribune.com

CAIRO — The United States, despite opposition from Congress, has
begun sending F-16 multi-role fighters as well as main battle tanks to
Egypt.

A senior U.S. official said the administration of President Barack Obama
has ordered the Defense Department to begin sending the first of 20 F-16
Block 52+ aircraft on Jan. 21. The official said the Pentagon would also
deliver assembly kits for 200 M1A1 MBTs.

Egypt is set to receive 20 F-16s from the U.S. over the next two years. /U.S. Air Force photo

“Congress did not change the laws on selling arms to Egypt,” William
Taylor, the special coordinator for Middle East Transitions, said. “The U.S. administration listens to all views, but does not necessarily [concede to] them all.”

Taylor’s position has included facilitating U.S. aid to Cairo. His
remarks, reported in the Egyptian media on Jan. 17, marked high-level
confirmation of an imminent U.S. arms transfer to Cairo, which receives $1.3 billion in annual American military aid.

In late December 2012, the Pentagon was ordered to prepare for the
shipment of F-16s and Abrams MBTs by February 2013. The Pentagon has already awarded contracts for the delivery.

Congress has expressed opposition to the U.S. delivery, but did not
block the move. Opponents said the arms transfer of advanced combat
platforms would encourage abuses by the Islamist regime of President
Mohammed Morsi.

In mid-January, the White House issued its first criticism
of Morsi — for anti-Jewish statements made two years earlier.

“We should not be giving Egypt F-16s and Abrams tanks,” Sen. Rand Paul
said. “We may be feeding an arms race.”

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