The United States is set to deliver eight F-16 fighter jets to the Egyptian regime. It forms part of an arms sales package that was frozen after the 2013 military coup by then Army Chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who is now the country's president.
U.S. President Barack Obama unfroze the package in March, paving the way for the delivery. The Obama administration considers Egypt one of its key allies and partners in the region. Egypt shares a border with Israel, therefore having strong security ties with Egypt helps ensure Israel's security.
The delivery was announced in a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo Thursday, which also said Washington will deliver four more F-16s to Egypt in the autumn. The embassy tweeted the statement along with a hashtag in Arabic that read: “Egypt will defeat terrorism.”
The unfrozen package includes the 12 Lockheed Martin F-16 warplanes, 20 Boeing Harpoon missiles, and up to 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits made by General Dynamics. Washington already delivered two fast missile craft to the Egyptian navy last month.
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Following Sissi's coup, which ousted the country's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, Washington stood by the military's move, despite it being a blow to the country's Arab Spring-inspired revolution in the country, which the U.S. had previously supported.
During this time, the U.S. administration came under fire from rights groups around the world for supporting the coup. Many called on the administration to suspend its military ties with the junta regime.
The White House's response to the backlash was to freeze the aid until the country introduced “democratic reforms.”
Although analysts and observers from across the political spectrum agree the current Egyptian regime has not elevated the country's democracy, the U.S. and its allies have choosen to turn a blind eye and support the regime.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there are at least 18 journalists behind bars in Egypt, most of them arrested during Sissi's time in power. The Egyptian president recently proposed a law that would eliminate the appeal process for those on death row as part of his crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood party, Morsi's political party.
Also, the government is set to introduce a law that would see journalists facing at least two years in prison for using any figures that differ with those declared by the government.
Since the 2013 ousting of Morsi, who, along with many of his party members, has been sentenced to death, the country has not have a sitting parliament. Laws thus only need the signature of the president to go into effect.
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