Four F-16 fighter jets left the U.S. this morning [yesterday], 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 base in Fort Worth, Texas, 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 foreign aid deal signed in 2010 with then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a longtime U.S. ally.
Egypt has been receiving about $1.3 billion a year in military aid since 1979, and more than $50 billion in U.S. dollars since 1975. Here's how the aid was described during renewal in 2004 by the Christian Science Monitor:
The money is seen as bolstering Egypt's stability, support for US policies in the region, US access to the Suez Canal, and peace with Israel. But some critics question the aid's effectiveness in spurring economic and democratic development in the Arab world's most populous country—a higher US priority after Sept. 11, 2001.
"Aid offers an easy way out for Egypt to avoid reform," says Edward Walker, the US ambassador to Egypt from 1994 to 1998. "They use the money to support antiquated programs and to resist reforms."
The Mubarak regime resisted reforms to the very end, even getting Congress to structure aid in a way that would avoid Congressional oversight, finally collapsing in a popular uprising centered in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Eventually, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected president and rammed through a new constitution perceived as Islamist and also thoroughly statist. How far has Egypt come since the end of the regime on which the U.S. spent billions to coax into reform? Egypt's chief prosecutor last month ordered an investigation into whether leaders of the opposition committed treason by inciting supporters to overthrow Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood ought to know about plots to overthrow the government, such alleged plots were the stated driving force of many of the crackdowns the Muslim Brothers faced when they were in the opposition for more than half a century. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, and maybe even worse.