The U.S. will honor a commitment to deliver four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in coming weeks, as the second installment of a bigger order of 20 aircraft, despite the political turmoil in the country, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
Washington has refused, so far, to label the ouster of Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi as a coup, saying there are “significant consequences that go along” with calling Morsi’s removal a coup, and that it is a “highly charged issue for millions of Egyptians who have differing views about what happened,” according to White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Under U.S. law, Washington will be required to stop the $1.5 billion in defense aid to the Egyptian army, and halt the delivery of jets, which are part of the aid program, if it confirms that a coup occurred in Egypt.
“There is no current change in the plan to deliver F-16s to the Egyptian military,” U.S. officials told Reuters, on the condition of anonymity, adding that the delivery was likely to take place in August. Eight F-16 jets were delivered to Egypt in January, while the final eight are expected to be sent later this year.
Egypt, which is second only to Israel in receiving U.S. aid, has already received $650 million in military aid in the current fiscal and is set to get an additional $585 million before its fiscal year ends in September, a U.S. official told Reuters.
The Muslim Brotherhood organization alleges that Western governments, including the U.S., provided full support for the military intervention in Egypt to remove the democratically elected Morsi from power, adding that the West’s double standards during the reign of former leader Hosni Mubarak, when Egypt received billions of dollars in foreign aid, was returning.
“We feel, with great regret, that the international community is somehow intervening in recognition and support of the military coup,” Mohamed El-Beltagi, a senior Brotherhood politician, told Reuters last week. “This restores the state of hatred towards those European and American nations whose states always stand with despotic regimes against nations looking for freedom.”
Meanwhile, an Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman said that Morsi is being held in a “safe” location and treated in a “very dignified manner.”
Egypt’s military-backed interim government, on Wednesday, ordered the arrest of nine senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including the organization’s top spiritual leader, Mohamed Badie, on charges of inciting violence near the Republican Guard compound in Cairo, on Monday, when more than 50 Brotherhood supporters, a soldier and two policemen were killed.