On Friday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible sale of 125 M1A1 Abrams tank to Egypt – the first large arms deal since Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in February – including associated weapons, equipment, parts, training and logistical support at an estimated cost of just over $1.3 billion.
If approved, the deal would increase the number of Abrams tanks in Egypt from around 1,000 to 1,130.
Egypt is headed for a huge economic/food crisis. David P. Goldman (‘Spengler’) writes,
The numbers thrown out by the IMF are stupefying. “In the current baseline scenario,” wrote the IMF on May 27, “the external financing needs of the region’s oil importers is projected to exceed $160 billion during 2011-13.” That’s almost three years’ worth of Egypt’s total annual imports as of 2010. As of 2010, the combined current account deficit (that is, external financing needs) of Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Morocco and Tunisia was about $15 billion a year.
What the IMF says, in effect, is that the oil-poor Arab economies – especially Egypt – are not only broke, but dysfunctional, incapable of earning more than a small fraction of their import bill. The disappearance of tourism is an important part of the problem, but shortages of fuel and other essentials have had cascading effects throughout these economies.
So, how will they pay for these tanks? Well, I suppose we US taxpayers will, through the military ‘aid’ that we’ve provided to Egypt ever since we supplanted the Soviets as their patron. I presume our government thinks that it’s more important to ‘aid’ the Egyptian military complex than to feed the people. And then there’s our own debt crisis.
A more important question is “what do they need these tanks for?” Egypt’s armored brigades are already far superior to those of Iran. There is only one possible use for them, and that is to fight Israel.
Nobody knows at this point who will be in charge in Egypt in the next few months. Demonstrators presently camped in Tahrir Square include not only “pro-democracy” elements, but also Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood and more radical groups. Can we trust them? Does it sound ridiculous to even ask that question?
There is perhaps no place on earth as dangerous today as Egypt, a huge country where political instability, economic crisis and a massive military establishment are coming together.
Should the US be making it even more dangerous?