(JNS.org) President Barack Obama has lifted the hold on American military aid to Egypt amid growing instability in the Middle East caused by Islamic extremists.
According to the White House, Obama told Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in a phone call that the United States will lift restrictions on the delivery of F-16 aircraft, Harpoon missiles, and M1A1 tank kits that were put in place in 2013 following the ouster of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Obama also told El-Sisi that he will continue to request the annual $1.3 billion in U.S. military assistance to Egypt.
Obama’s move signals an end to U.S. unease over the military ouster of Morsi, which was in part orchestrated by El-Sisi, who was defense minister at the time, as well as a growing realization of the threats Egypt and other regional allies face from terror groups like the Islamic State.
“These and other steps will help refine our military assistance relationship so that it is better positioned to address the shared challenges to U.S. and Egyptian interests in an unstable region, consistent with the longstanding strategic partnership between our two countries,” the White House said in a statement.
But Obama did reiterate America’s concerns about “Egypt’s continued imprisonment of non-violent activists and mass trials,” and called on El-Sisi to take steps to protect freedom of speech and assembly.