Rumors are now circulating suggesting that Israel is growing uneasy as a result of a recent report from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that Egypt is seeking to acquire Russian air-defense systems such as the S-300, MiG Fighter jets, Mi-35 helicopters, Mi-17 helicopters, and Kornet anti-tank weapons.
Last month, an Egyptian newspaper reported that Egypt had recently concluded a $2 billion weapons deal with Russia which was funded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The weapons deal is largely seen as a means to mitigate the threat of U.S. pressure as a result of the ouster of corrupt Muslim Brotherhood member Muhammed Morsi.
The report, entitled “Egypt’s arms deals with Russia: Potential Strategic Costs,” by David Schenker and Eric Trager, claims that the transfer of arms of this nature, particularly the MiGs and S-300, would violate the 1979 peace deal that Egypt currently maintains with Israel.
Although the helicopters are clearly related to Egypt’s battle against terrorists in the Sinai, Schenker and Trager argue that the S-300 and other related weaponry is not and, thus, should be avoided.
Schenker stated “Egypt’s priorities right now should be all about counterterrorism operations, both in the Sinai and the Nile Valley. Russian helicopters fit the bill, though S-300s and sea-to-land missiles obviously do not.”
What is most interesting, perhaps, is the fact that if the Russian deal were to go through, the policy of the United States of tying military aid to the fulfillment of its demands may be largely mitigated from the standpoint of the Egyptians.
As the report from WINEP, “Saudi Arabia’s funding of Egyptian weapons procurements has nullified Washington’s policy of tying military aid to political reform.”
The increased distrust of the U.S. government by the Egyptians, according to the report, has led Gen. Sisi “to seek Moscow’s help in diversifying the country’s sources of military procurement. Despite reassurances from Egyptian officials, the Russian weapons deal – if concluded – portends a gradual reduction in Washington’s ability to control the quality and quantity of weapons that Cairo receives, and to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.”
It should also be noted that the WINEP institution is nothing more than a branch of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. WINEP has been closely linked with Neo-Conservatism and Neo-Conservatives.
Obviously, neither the United States nor the Israeli governments will be willing to allow Israel to exist in any state of military inferiority for very long. If the Egyptian deal with the Russians goes through, it will be interesting indeed to see how the U.S. will respond.
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