Abrams Tanks In Cairo Underscore The Importance Of U.S. Arms Sales
As I watched the making of history in Cairo, I noticed something. The Egyptian Army was moving into the city. A column of tanks was moving down one of the city’s broad avenues. They were M-1 Abrams, the same kind used by the U.S. Army. The Egyptian Army has around 1,000 M-1s built under license and which together with some 1,400 older M-60s and 2,500 M-113s constitute the core of that country’s conventional warfare capability. Moreover, if you looked up in the skies over Cairo you would see U.S. made F-16s. The Egyptian Air Force flies more than 200 of these aircraft along with a number of C-130 transports and eight E-2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft.
The presence of so much U.S. military hardware in Egypt is a good thing. Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. military assistance and has been since the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement in 1979. The provision of U.S. assistance and military hardware broke the stranglehold of the Soviet Union over the Egyptian military, thereby helping to cement that peace treaty. The fact that the Egyptian Army and Air Force is U.S. equipped gives Washington enormous leverage over those institutions as we and they try and figure a way forward in the current crisis.