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Thursday, July 21, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Rep. West opposes arms deals with Egypt
if vulnerable to Muslim Brotherhood

WASHINGTON — Congress is questioning Egypt's request to continue to coproduce an advanced U.S. main battle tank.


The House has heard reservations over a decision by President Barack Obama to approve an Egyptian request for the acquisition of 125 M1A1s, valued at $1.3 billion. A House member has begun to lobby against military sales to Egypt as long it remained under threat from the Muslim Brotherhood.

"I strongly oppose any military sales of any kind to the government of Egypt as long as the Muslim Brotherhood remains active in the political process," Rep. Allen West said. "Doing so would seriously jeopardize the safety and security of the state of Israel. The last thing I want to see is Egyptian M1A1 tanks rolling through the Sinai towards Jerusalem."

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In a letter to House Armed Services Committee chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon, West, a Florida Republican, said Egypt's greatest threat was a Brotherhood takeover, Middle East Newsline reported. He said the Brotherhood was prepared to "turn Egypt into a radical Islamic state."

This marked the first open House opposition to U.S. arms sales to Egypt since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February. Congressional sources said West's letter represented the concern of many House members regarding Egypt, which receives $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid.

"America must continue to stand with the Egyptian people and encourage them to build their own democracy with new political parties and freedoms," West, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said. "However, we must exercise caution with regards to military sales and support to the Egyptian government until a government is formed absent of the radical elements of the Muslim Brotherhood that will maintain active peace with Israel."

Egypt already has a fleet of about 1,000 Abrams MBTs, most of them coproduced in a factory in Cairo. Officials said Egypt was producing at least 70 percent of the M1A1 in cooperation with prime contractor General Dynamics.

West's letter was also sent to House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and other congressional leaders. West cited Egypt's decision to allow the Iranian Navy to send two vessels through the Suez Canal in February as well as the subsequent visit by Iran's foreign minister to Cairo.

Congress has 30 days to object to the Egyptian deal, approved by the administration on July 1. Congressional sources said neither the House nor Senate was expected to block the Abrams sale.

"There are jobs at stake here and the technology has long matured, so in this economic climate, blocking the deal doesn't make much sense to Congress," a congressional aide said.

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