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What "Regional Security Interests" Are Met by Selling F-16s to Egypt?

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The U.S. is going ahead with the sale of several F-16 fighter jets to Egypt. According to a document obtained by the Free Beacon, the State Department is defending the sale on the grounds that it promotes U.S. "regional security interests."

U.S. interests in the Middle East essentially boil down to the free passage of oil into the Gulf and it's not clear how Egypt's newly bolstered air force is supposed to contribute to that. Indeed, the language the State Department uses to defend the sale doesn't actually address anything particularly relevant to U.S. security, but instead notes how the aircraft will help solidify ties with Egypt and help their armed forces protect their border -- from what, we're not told:

“Delaying or cancelling deliveries of the F-16 aircraft would undermine our efforts to address our regional security interests through a more capable Egyptian military and send a damaging and lasting signal to Egypt’s civilian and military leadership as we work toward a democratic transition in the key Middle Eastern State,” the State Department said.

"Egypt is a strategic partner with whom we have a long history of close political-military relations that have benefited U.S. interest,” said the letter, which was authored by assistant secretary for legislative affairs David Adams. “For the past 30 years the F-16 aircraft has been a key component of the relationship between the United States military and the Egyptian Armed Forces.”

It's clear what's going on here: the administration is desperately seeking some form of leverage with Egypt and thinks these jets will provide it. Of course, the U.S. showered the Shah of Iran with weapons and that didn't prevent an anti-American revolution.

(AP Photo)