London: High importance of US aid being given to Egypt military

Dunya News

Egypt's military, the biggest recipient of US military aid after Israel, is in decline, according to American diplomats, who blame the Arab nation's top brass for failing to modernize and adapt to deal with new threats.US diplomatic memos leaked this month show previously unknown friction between the two allies over military assistance and strategy. Military cooperation has always been seen as an unshakable link between Egypt and the US, even as the political side of the alliance has gone through public ups and downs over Washington's on-and-off pressure on reform and human rights. The disagreements, the memos show, are over a wide range of topics, with the US pressing Egypt to focus its military toward terrorism, halting cross-border smuggling and helping out in regional crises. The United States has sought to interest the Egyptian military into expanding their mission in ways that reflect new regional and transnational security threats, such as piracy, border security, and counterterrorism, said a memo dated Dec. 21, 2008, released by WikiLeaks. The military is the power base of the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, himself a former air force pilot. The army ousted the monarchy soon after it seized power in a 1952 coup and all of the country's our presidents since have come from the ranks of the military.Egypt has its own complaints, too. Egyptian military officials do not welcome pressure by the Americans to change the doctrine of their armed forces. They also complain that Washington has increased annual military aid to Israel, growing from $2.55 billion in 2009 to an expected $3 billion in 2011. Since its peace deal with Israel, Egypt has received nearly $36 billion in military assistance, an annual installment of $1.3 billion. With an estimated 1 million active and reserve personnel, the Egyptian military's last combat mission was in the 1991 Gulf War, when it fought as part of a US-military alliance to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. According to the leaked US memos, Egyptian officials told visiting US defence officials they must convince Congress that Egypt was worth more than the $1.3 billion a year it is getting in military aid, according to a memo dated 28th February 2010.