Egypt’s Defense Minister Sedky Sobhy met on Wednesday in Cairo with U.S. Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Air Force General Joseph L. Lengyel and his accompanying delegation, where they discussed several issues of mutual interest.
According to an official statement by the Egyptian armed forces, the meeting came in light of growing special relations between the two friendly nations. That relationship has developed based on joint efforts and in response to challenges in the region, primarily the war on terrorism and the struggle for peace and security.
Moreover, Egypt’s Defense Minister expressed appreciation for the military partnership and cooperation between the Egyptian and American armed forces.
He added that the partnership has extended over years of work to strengthen the pillars of security and peace in the Middle East.
At the meeting, Lengyel voiced hope that U.S.-Egypt military relations might be further enhanced with a view to “serving both countries’ common interests.”
In addition, Egyptian armed forces Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy met with Lengyel on Wednesday to discuss cooperation on training and exchanging military experience in several fields.
The US National Guard Bureau Chief expressed his hopes for continued coordination and new efforts that would achieve both countries’ mutual interests.
The statement did not reveal when Lengyel and his delegation had arrived in Egypt or when they planned to depart.
It is worth to mention that Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid after Israel, receiving some $1.3 billion every year in military assistance from Washington.
During his visit to Cairo in April 2017, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he was optimistic about improving military ties with Egypt after talks with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, following a period of tension under the Obama administration.
James Mattis’ visit to the Middle East comes within the framework of the Trump Administration pursuit to reset Washington’s relations with traditional US partners in the Middle East.
The Pentagon said that during his tour, Mattis will aim “to re-affirm key US military alliances, to engage with strategic partners in the Middle East and Africa, and to discuss cooperative effort to counter destabilizing activities and defeat extremist terror organizations.”
Moreover, Donald Trump moved to reset U.S. relations with Egypt, hosting al-Sisi for talks at the White House in April and giving him firm backing, including in the fight against Islamist militants.
U.S. and Egypt relations have soared under the former administration of Barack Obama, which admonished Cairo for its rights abuses following the military overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi.
In 2013,U.S. suspended military aid to Egypt before resuming it two years later, but Obama never extended an invitation to the Egypt’s military dictator after he assumed office in 2014 amid continued human rights violations.
Moreover, during Obama administration,”The State Department’s human rights report accuses Sisi’s government of stifling basic freedoms and enforcing its repression through torture, the disappearances of critics, and arbitrary arrests and killings.”
On the contrary, Trump’s flattering words to Egypt’s al-Sisi during his first official visit to the United Sates of America are considered a sharp shift from Obama Administration.
Trump said,”You have a great friend and ally in the United States and in me.”
He also said as he sat beside al-Sisi in the Oval Office,”We agree on so many things.””He added, “I just want to let everybody know in case there was any doubt that we are very much behind al-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt. The United States has, believe me, backing, and we have strong backing.”
Trump has set aside all of those concerns on human rights violations in Egypt , and it seems that his new administration will give a green light to military sales financing and other economic support cooperation that Cairo was longing for.
The Trump administration has also proposed massive cuts to U.S. foreign aid, but has signaled that Egypt will continue to receive its $1.3 billion worth of annual military aid.