Calls grow to pull plug on US gifts of tanks, F-16 jets to Egypt

Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan urged President Obama Thursday to stop the shipments of 20 American F-16 fighter jets and 200 Abrams tanks to Egypt. The Florida Congressman is part of a growing chorus of critics who have asked the administration to pull the plug on the $213 million deal.

“Simply put, the U.S. should not be providing military assistance to a regime that supports Hamas and is looking more and more like a dictatorship than a trustworthy democracy,” Buchanan wrote in a letter dated Jan. 10.

Buchanan recently called for ending foreign aid to Egypt altogether and told last month that the Muslim Brotherhood-backed government has been sending increasingly troubling signals to Washington, and giving it state-of-the-art fighter jets is a dangerous idea.

“We can no longer afford to buy friends across the world that do not have our best interest in mind,” Buchanan said in his letter. “As American’s debt continues to skyrocket, we need to be focusing on policies that grow the U.S. economy, create jobs and reduce the massive federal debt.”

The multi-million deal, paid for by taxpayer money, is part of a foreign aid package signed when American ally Hosni Mubarak was president.

“A Shariah dictatorship on Israel’s border – armed with American weapons – is a deadly threat to Israel and America,” reads a petition being circulated by The American Center for Law and Justice. “All U.S. funding to Egypt must be cut off until we can certify that aid to Egypt will help the national security interests of the United States and Israel.”

The petition has garnered more than 150,000 signatures, and ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow believes it could bolster mounting opposition in Washington. Although the deal has already been approved by Congress and could only be rescinded by President Obama, Sekulow said lawmakers have leverage because Obama needs their backing for some $1.5 billion in aid earmarked for Egypt later this year.