Egyptian army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has recently intensified contact with the Russian Defense Ministry in order to expedite the completion of an arms deal.
According to senior Egyptian sources that the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai quoted in a report on Wednesday, the deal with Russia includes advanced aircraft, monitoring equipment and other sophisticated weapons that would be used to fight terrorism emanating from Sinai.
The urgent move to close the deal for needed weapons comes after a report on Tuesday that the White House was delaying the delivery of an arms deal that included 10 Apache helicopters. An Egyptian military source told the London- based Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that the arms deal was intended to help put down the Islamist insurgency in Sinai.
The delay continues an ongoing US partial aid and weapons freeze that has largely been seen as punishment for Sisi’s military coup and crackdown on former president Mohamed Morsi and his supporters.
The delay of the helicopters has frustrated the Egyptians, Al-Rai’s sources said, especially because US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called Sisi Monday and promised to put an end to the matter and deliver the aircraft “in a few days.”
Hagel also told Sisi that Obama’s position is unjustified and that the Pentagon is against cutting military ties in this way.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said in an interview on Egyptian TV that the army had sent several Apache helicopters to the US for maintenance, but that they have not been returned.
Egypt completed a $2 billion arms deal with Russia, with financial support from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a senior official told Al-Masry al-Youm last month.