A consignment of F-16 jet fighters to Cairo from Washington during the next few weeks has stirred up yet another hornet's nest in Egypt's fraught political atmosphere. In the opinion of many observers, the controversy over the deal is a thoroughly political one, as the additional fighter planes will do little to alter strategic balances of power in the region. It is unlikely that similar arms deals during the Mubarak era would have aroused such an altercation. The new factor, of course, is the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power, which has worried political circles in both capitals.While Israel will still hold a qualitative edge in air power, this upgrade of Egypt's air force by the US at a time when Egypt's leadership is still oscillating between acting responsibly and extremist Islamism seems very premature. It is effectively a US endorsement of Morsi, a man who only two years ago was shouting anti-semitic slogans.
The $213 million gift also includes 200 Abrams tanks, perfect for use at Tahrir Square.
Here is an (Arabic) video just made by an Egyptian contrasting Morsi's seeming liberalism when talking to CNN and his anti-semitism when speaking in Arabic, saying that "we must teach our children to hate the Jews" (no translation yet, sorry):
Ironically, this decision by the US to trust Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood comes right after the US-trained troops in Mali defected to Al Qaeda with their US-supplied guns and other equipment.