London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The US has temporarily lifted an arms embargo on Cairo to deliver 10 attack helicopters to the Egyptian government amid reports that two police officers were killed on Wednesday as the security situation in the country continues to deteriorate.
Washington froze some forms of military assistance to Egypt last year following a policy review taken after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi and a government crackdown against the former ruling Muslim Brotherhood. However the Obama administration agreed to temporarily resume some arms deliveries this week, citing Egypt’s commitment to its 35-year-old peace treaty with Israel.
“Today, [US] Secretary [of State John] Kerry spoke with Egyptian Foreign Minister [Nabil] Fahmi to inform him that he is certifying to Congress that Egypt is sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States, including by countering transnational threats such as terrorism and weapons proliferation, and that Egypt is upholding its obligations under the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Washington is preparing to send 10 Apache attack helicopters to the Egyptian military, in addition to releasing some of the annual 1.3 billion US dollars in military assistance annually granted to the North African state.
The Egyptian armed forces already possess several dozen such helicopters, and has deployed them in operations against Islamist militants in the country’s unstable Sinai peninsula.
The US–Egyptian rapprochement also sees Kerry meeting with Egypt’s new intelligence chief in Washington on Wednesday, in addition to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel personally phoning Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Sedki Sobhi to inform him of Washington’s decision to allow the Apache helicopter transfer.
Hagel told Sobhi that the US Secretary of State will “soon certify to Congress that Egypt is sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States and is meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty,” Hagel’s spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.
This certification is required for the US government to resume allocating funds to Egypt.
Meanwhile, a car bomb killed a senior policeman and injured another in the 6th of October City suburb of Cairo on Wednesday morning. Local media reported that unidentified attackers placed a homemade explosive device under the police vehicle, killing a Central Security Forces brigadier-general. A second police officer was killed in Alexandria during a raid on a militant hideout on Wednesday, Alexandria Police Chief Maj. Gen. Amin Ezzedin told state news. One suspect was killed in the shootout and another arrested. Police seized two explosive belts, machine guns and homemade explosives from the hideout.