Muslim Brotherhood inherits U.S. war gear

Rowan Scarborough
The Washington Times
12/6/2012

For Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government, more battle tanks and jet fighters are on their way from the United States.

Cairo’s military link to Washington has remained intact, meaning the U.S. will continue to modernize the biggest military in Africa — even as President Mohammed Morsi has decreed near-absolute power for himself and his supporters and opponents battle outside his palace.

Analysts say Egypt’s military buildup presents risks for Washington — and Israel — with the growing influence of the Brotherhood, whose overriding goal is to establish Shariah, or Islamic, law worldwide.

A Pentagon statement to The Washington Times on Thursday said: “We are always reviewing our foreign assistance to make sure foreign assistance advances U.S. objectives and is being used for the right purposes.”

For now, Egypt is due 200 M1A1 Abrams battle tanks, the same mechanized firepower manned by American soldiers, bringing Egypt’s inventory to a robust 1,200…

…“Egypt has far and away the largest army in Africa,” said Egypt analyst Robert Springborg, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

The billions of dollars in U.S. military aid — in annual $1.3 billion stipends — have made the Egyptian air force the fourth-largest F-16 operator among 25 countries. Egypt’s 4,000 tanks, including the 1,000 or so M1A1s, make it the world’s seventh-largest tank army.

“This is a pretty substantial capacity that they have developed,” Mr. Springborg said…

…Meanwhile, Frank Gaffney, a senior defense policymaker in the Reagan administration, has been warning about the rise of the Brotherhood as it relates to the U.S.

“My principal concern with the Obama administration’s approach to Egypt is they seem oblivious to the fact it is now in the hands of a regime that is deeply hostile to the United States and certainly poses an immediate threat, I believe, to our friends in Israel,” said Mr. Gaffney, who runs the Center for Security Policy. “Under those circumstances, it is alarming that they are continuing to arm Egypt in a way that can only exacerbate the threat.”

Mr. Morsi, a Brotherhood leader before his election, relies on the global fraternity as a power base.

“There are two things that are troubling,” Mr. Gaffney said. “One is the sheer quantity of the weapons that these enemies of the United States have inherited, let alone those they will be getting if we continue to make arms sales with them. The second is the quality of these weapons.”…

James Phillips, a Middle East analyst at the Heritage Foundation, said one rationale for continuing the aid was that the leader of the country’s military stood as a strong counterweight to the Brotherhood.

“But it’s no longer true,” he said, given Mr. Morsi’s purge in August of generals from the previous regime of Hosni Mubarak. “It remains to be seen whether Egypt’s military is in the pocket of the Muslim Brotherhood or if it will be a political constraint on the Brotherhood’s effort to expand its power.”

Mr. Phillips said any move away from the Camp David Accords automatically would result in an end to aid, which has averaged about $2 billion in military and economic programs over the past 33 years…

The complete article is at The Washington Times.

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