Top United States Defense Official Ended His Visit To Egypt

Joseph Votel, the commander of the United States central command has ended a two-day official visit to Egypt.

The US commander met several military top officials as the Defense Minister Sedki Sobhy, the Egyptian Armed Forces chief of staff Mahmoud Hegazy, and a number of top military officials, reported Daily News Egypt.

The discussions held between the US and Egyptian officials focused on regional updates and counter-terrorism efforts.

According to an army statement, Votel also discussed the situation of militancy in Sinai, praising the Egyptian army’s operations in countering terrorism.

Several US army officials visited Egypt over the past three months.

The latest was the US army official to visit Cairo was the US Army Central Commander Lieutenant General Michael X Garrett in August 10,2016.

In June, the director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Vincent Stewart also visited Egypt.

On July 18, 2016, the head of the US Naval Forces Central Command commander Kevin M. Donegan visited Egypt to discuss shared security interests between the two countries.

Moreover, Egyptian Armed Forces’ Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy paid an official visit to the US in May as he discussed counter-terrorism with his counterparts and the US’ role in the Sinai peacekeeping mission.

The United States provides Egypt with $1.3 billion in military aid annually, with the 2016 package including $150 million in economic assistance.

Recently, Egypt received in May an initial shipment of 762 mine-resistant, ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles from the United States, which will be used in army operations in North Sinai, according to Defense News.

Maj. Gen. Charles Hooper, a senior defense official at the US Embassy in Egypt, said: “The delivery of these MRAPs to Egypt provides a crucial capability needed during these times of regional instability and is part of the continuing strong relationship between the US and Egypt.”

Egypt received the MRAPs free of charge as part of the Pentagon’s Excess Defense Articles grant program.

Hossam Ibrahim, a researcher specialist in US affairs, says both Cairo and Washington “are moving to strengthen partnership and cooperation in the fight against terrorism.”

“Washington wants Egypt to achieve real success against the extremist organizations in the Sinai.”

The US believes that Cairo should carry out the campaign against terrorist organizations in the framework of conventional warfare.

Fixed roadblocks, checkpoints and similar measures are manifestations of this conventional approach, which is no longer appropriate given the “qualitative shift in the direction of unconventional security threats.”

As a result, the MRAP, said Ibrahim, signals a necessary move in the direction of non-conventional means of confrontation.

The Egyptian armed forces are launching massive attacks against the Islamic insurgency in Sinai Peninsula. Sinai Province a group affiliated to ISIS carried several operations and attacks against Egyptian armed forces.

In fact, most insurgencies operations in Sinai use roadside mines, IEDs and other such explosives.

Such attacks have become a major threat to military personnel and equipment, and the army was eager to acquire the best possible protection.

Despite al-Sisi regime continuous human rights violations, the United States of America continues to support the autocratic military regime in Egypt.

Following the military coup in 2013, US annual $1.5 billion aid to Egypt, including the $1.3 billion military assistance was frozen in October 2013.

However, US said it planned to resume the military aid partially in 2014. In this context, the United States delivered 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt after lifting part of a freeze on aid. In 2015, the Obama administration announced it to resume the total military aid to the al-Sisi regime.