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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tanks A-lot Mr President

The International arms broker Defense Security Cooperation Agency Announced in a press release July 5, 2011 that they are putting together a deal for the Egyptian Government. The deal is for upgrading the Egyptians Abrams Tank program. The Egyptians operate a co-production tank facility for the construction, repair and retrofitting of M1A1 Abrams Tanks. Egypt currently fields over 600 Abrams Tanks and another 250 Russian T72s.

There is nothing illegal about this sale and DSCA is seeking DOD approval on the proposal before it is finalized. The package consists of 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits for co-production, 125 M256 Armament Systems, 125 M2 .50 caliber machine guns, 250 M240 7.62mm machine guns, 125 AGT-1500 M1A1 series tank engines and transmissions, 120mm test cartridges, spare and repair parts, maintenance, support equipment, special tool and test equipment, personnel training and equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. Articles may be provided in furtherance of a co-production agreement. The estimated cost is $1.329 billion.
  1. Should we provide this hardware and support in light of the current activities in Egypt?
  2. Is the American Taxpayer ultimately footing the bill?
  3. Will there be fair elections in Egypt soon and will the outcome bolster radical factions in the region?
  4. Is the Egyptian military fracturing along ideological lines and will the commanders accept the political outcome?
There is protest after protest in Egypt and the country is in economic and political turmoil. There is widespread violence against Coptic Christians and 75% of the population is in favor of resending the Israeli  peace treaty. The Suez Canal operations were halted by striking workers and they cut electricity for 10 minuets as a show of force. The workers 1400 strong shut down the shipyard and that has triggered law suits against the country of Egypt. The U.S. State Dept. Spokesperson Victoria Nuland has been expressing a total ambivalent attitude in regard to Egypt.

Egypt seems to attracting money from all over the region. In addition to the U.S. offer of $1.5 billion the most recent offer on 7 July, the United Arab Emirates promised that it would give Egypt $3 billion in financial assistance. The money would be in addition to Qatar’s pledge of $10 billion and the $4 billion Saudi Arabia has already promised.  Most of these offers are a mixture of funds, loans, and grants. The amounts will probably be paid at intervals. The UAE money includes a $1.5 billion fund for small to medium businesses, $750 million in loans, and a $750 million grant, with no expectations of repayment.  The Saudi money includes a $500 million grant to help finance the budget deficit, $500 million in loans, and $500 million in Egyptian bond purchases.The $10 billion from Qatar will probably be mostly investments, but the country has also given some grants. In the weeks that Egypt was revising its budget so not to take on IMF and World Bank loans, Qatar provided $500 million to help the budget immediately. Egyptian Finance Minister Samir Radwan, said  “That is a gift.”

Iran’s leadership of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been actively supporting subversive movements in the region with the ultimate goal of bringing an end to pro-Western regimes. By hijacking legitimate expressions of democracy and self-determination, Iran's objective is to simultaneously undermine US influence and entrench Islamic goals. Iran wants to build a pro islamist coalition of partners to circumvent western interests. After the ouster of President Mubarak, leaders from the Brotherhood travelled to Iran for an Islamic Unity Conference. It was there that Kamal el-Helbawi, a former spokesman for the Brotherhood, praised the Iranian regime "as a model of resistance against the West's domination" and Ahmadinejad as "the No 1 figure of the Muslim world". With the Muslim Brotherhood under the Iranian wing Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are closer to there strategic national objective of surrounding Israel.

The Sinai is out of control of the military and it seams that the attacks on the gas pipeline will continue. The Junior officers not trained to take initiative only orders weakened security at the gaza border  culminating in non-action Egyptian side. This all stands to reason because of the military chain of command has broken with to top leaders in Cairo dealing with political matters. The military commission is dealing with continuing social unrest of all sorts and is depending upon advisers from the Muslim Brotherhood to resolve social problems.

Arms sales to friendly governments are grate for the economy and keeping people employed. In this case we should pull back and see how things shake out. The last thing we want to do is sell Tanks and guns to a potential radical Islamist state that is getten cozy with Iran.

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