Egypt was handed 10 Apache helicopters from the US, official military spokesperson Mohamed Samir confirmed to state media Saturday. The shipment follows an August deal and is part of US military aid to Egypt.
The announcement was made to put an end to doubts regarding the delayed delivery. Previous reports cited the “deliberate postponement” of the delivery from the US side to put pressure on Egypt.
US Secretary of State John Kerry had told President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to expect the helicopters to arrive in Egypt by November, in a meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo in October.
Military aid to Egypt was temporarily suspended following tensions due to the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, which was regarded as a military coup, sparking US concerns over democracy in Egypt. However, the Pentagon reversed the decision in April and decided to resume the annual $1.3bn worth of aid.
Following Al-Sisi’s inauguration and amid the US-led global war against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), US officials agreed that counterterrorism plans should address both military and security solutions. The plans would also cover developmental solutions at economic and social levels. This included former US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel’s April phone call to Egyptian Minister of Defence Sedky Sobhy, along with the US Congress’ 2015 spending bill, passed earlier this month following negotiations between Kerry and Al-Sisi.
Egypt had requested US military assistance, stating its counterterrorism efforts in North Sinai have been ongoing for more than a year. However, former deputy head of state security and expert in terrorist affairs Major General Fouad Allam commented that it would be incorrect to state that Egypt’s success in ending terror in Sinai is conditioned by the US aid.
“Of course the US-provided equipment helps significantly, but there has been a clear Al-Sisi approach aimed at ‘diversifying sources of weaponry acquirement’, which has indeed been forged for with Russian counterparts, in addition to Sobhy’s ongoing official visit to Italy, a key economic partner and strategic ally to Egypt,” Allam said.
Allam added that Egypt is going to pursue military cooperation with multiple alternative sources, including possibly China, which Al-Sisi is expected to officially visit next Tuesday.