In The News
Kimberly Willingham (202) 225-3035
January 22, 2013 Fox News, By Maxim Lott
Four F-16 fighter jets left the U.S. this morning, bound for Egypt as part of a foreign aid package critics say should have been scrapped when the nation elected a president who has called President Obama a liar and urged that hatred of Jews be instilled in children.
A source who works on the Naval Air Force Base in Dallas confirmed the departure of the state-of-the-art fighter planes to FoxNews.com. Sixteen F-16s and 200 Abrams tanks are to be given to the Egyptian government before the end of the year under a $216 million foreign aid deal signed in 2010 with then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a longtime U.S. ally..
Critics, including several in Congress, say it doesn't make sense to follow through with the package, given that new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, elected last summer, has given decidedly mixed signals about relations with the U.S. While he has toned down his rhetoric since his election, in 2010 - the same year the aid package was struck - Morsi attacked Obama for supporting Israel.
“One American president after another — and most recently, that Obama — talks about American guarantees for the safety of the Zionists in Palestine," Morsi, then a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, said on Egyptian television in reaction to Obama's 2009 speech in Cairo. "[Obama] was very clear when he uttered his empty words on the land of Egypt. He uttered many lies, of which he couldn’t have fulfilled a single word, even if he were sincere — which he is not.”
In the comments translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Morsi went on to urge that children be taught to hate Jews.
“Dear brothers, we must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them," he said. "They must be nursed on hatred. The hatred must continue.”
Lawmakers told FoxNews.com that even if Morsi has softened his stance, it makes no sense to arm his Islamist government with weapons that could one day be used against Israel or even Egyptians.
“It is appalling that the Obama administration would send F-16s and 200 military tanks to Egypt in the wake of the instability, [and the] anti-American and anti-Israel atmosphere," Rep. Louie Gohmert, (R-Texas), told FoxNews.com.
The U.S. government ordered the planes for Egypt from Lockheed Martin in 2010, as part of an annual aid package that regularly topped $1 billion. But the very next year, a popular revolution began which ultimately resulted in Mubarak's ouster and imprisonment, and the election of Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. In November, Morsi tried to claim dictatorial powers, but was forced to back down from his claim after massive protests against the move.
Many worry that arming such a volatile Egypt will endanger Israel.
"My hope and prayer is that someone in this administration will wake up and smell the burning of [Israel's] future and rescind the supply of planes and tanks," Gohmert said. "If they do not, then perhaps there will arise leaders within our Congress with newfound courage to stop the lunacy."
Rep. Vern Buchanan, (R-Fla.), who recently called for ending foreign aid to Egypt altogether, told FoxNews.com the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi government has been sending increasingly troubling signals to Washington, and giving it state-of-the-art fighter jets is a dangerous idea.
“American tax dollars must not be used to aid and abet any dictatorial regime that stands with terrorists,” Buchanan said.
"U.S. aid accounts for as much as 80 percent of the Egyptian Defense Ministry’s weapons procurement costs. In essence, American taxpayers have been Egypt’s major arms supplier, subsidizing the supply of F-16 jet fighters, M1A1 Abrams battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, Apache helicopters, and hundreds of millions of dollars in surplus military equipment."
According to a U.S. Air Force description, the planes' "maneuverability and combat radius exceed that of all potential threat fighter aircraft."
"The F-16 can fly more than 500 miles, deliver its weapons with superior accuracy, defend itself against enemy aircraft, and return to its starting point," the description states. "An all-weather capability allows it to accurately deliver ordnance during non-visual bombing conditions."