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US military aid to Egypt leaves hundreds of unused tanks

The US spends $1 billion in annual military aid to provide Egypt with unnecessary equipment.

Egypt tanks 173554979Enlarge
An Egyptian military tank is deployed in the northern Sinai town of Al-Arish on July 16, 2013. US government contractors supply Egypt with hundreds of tanks which are never used. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The real reason why America sends so much military equipment to Egypt may have more to do with American industry than geopolitical demand.

Julia Simon of NPR reports that experts see no need for many of the hundreds of fighter jets and thousands of tanks that the U.S. has sent Egypt since the late '80s.

"There's no conceivable scenario in which they'd need all those tanks short of an alien invasion," Shana Marshall of the Institute of Middle East Studies at George Washington University told NPR.

So why does the US keep sending tanks and jets? Simon points to the military-industrial complex:

Every year, the US Congress appropriates more than $1 billion in military aid to Egypt. But that money never gets to Egypt. It goes to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, then to a trust fund at the Treasury and, finally, out to U.S. military contractors that make the tanks and fighter jets that ultimately get sent to Egypt.

Simon reports that the U.S. has sent more than 1,000 M1A1 Abrams to Egypt since the late 80s — valued at about $4 billion — and at least 200 have never been used.

She adds that since 1980 the U.S. has sent Egypt 221 F-16 fighter jets — valued at $8 billion — despite U.S. military advisers in Cairo have been counseling against more acquisitions for years.

Nevertheless, America will continue the bonanza while turning a blind eye to the textbook coup that happened on July 3. 

Next year the U.S. is slated to provide the Egyptian military $1.3 billion, a full 20% of its budget.

Except for Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), the US government refuses to call it a coup because, as Peter Baker of the New York Times noted, "under United States law it has no choice but to cut off financial assistance to the country if it determines that he was deposed in a military coup."

And as Shana Marshall of Foreign Policy explained last year, cutting off aid would mean losing "a significant subsidy to US weapons manufacturers" that benefits "a small and influential coterie of elites in both capitals."

The process of US aid to Egypt is similar to how the US Army receives M1A1 Abrams tanks it neither needs nor wants — there are currently more than 2,000 inactive M-1 Abrams tanks sitting at an Army depot in the California desert.

Huge defense contractors and small manufacturers lobby Congress, and Congress ignores that fact that what its mandating is practically useless. Because of course Congress wants to keep those campaign donations rolling in.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/130808/us-military-aid-egypt-unused-tanks