US Military Quietly Deploying Hundreds of Soldiers to Egypt
The revelation comes as the Egyptian military escalates threats against protesters
The U.S. military is quietly deploying more than 400 U.S. soldiers trained in riot control to Egypt.
Fort Hood news station KCEN shows the soldiers training in full riot gear on various crowd control measures, including responses to molotov cocktails.
The station reports that the soldiers will deploy soon.
While the White House has remained silent on the matter, Egyptian authorities insisted Saturday that the soldiers will not be deployed against Egyptian protests but will join other countries in a routine 'peacekeeping' force in the Sinai:
"The 400 US soldiers coming to Egypt as mentioned in the media are part of the periodical renewal routine for the US faction of the 13-state multinational force deployed in Sinai since the peace treaty. They are not armed with military operations gear," spokesman of the Egyptian military Ahmed Ali said Saturday.
A Washington Times report on Friday carried a similar message, focusing on the role the soldiers will play guarding checkpoints and enforcing Egypt's 'peace' treaty with Israel.
The threat comes just days before planned June 30th mass protests against President Mohamed Morsi's regime. Al Jazeera reports:
Opposition groups are planning a major protest on June 30 to mark the one-year anniversary of Morsi's inauguration and demand his resignation.
There are widespread fears that the demonstrations could turn violent: At a pro-government rally on Friday, several speakers threatened to "crush" the opposition. Two people have already been shot dead in clashes over the weekend.
The U.S. is a major backer of the Egyptian military and government, continuing from Mubarak-era support, and Secretary of State John Kerry recently announced that $1.3 billion in annual Egyptian military aid will continue.
The support persists despite documented government and military human rights abuses, including violent crackdown on demonstrations and political dissent and closed-door military trials for civilians.