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An Apache helicopter flies over Tahrir Square, Cairo, during pro-military protests last year. (Photo: Getty images)

An Apache helicopter flies over Tahrir Square, Cairo, during pro-military protests last year. (Photo: Getty images)

US Blesses Egyptian Repression with Apache Attack Helicopters

Despite worsening human rights record by military-backed government, Obame administration approves shipment of Apache gunships

Jon Queally

Orchestrated overthrow of democratically-elected government: check.

Repression, arrest, and death sentences for political opponents: check.

Mass crackdown on journalists and critical media: check.

Shipment of U.S.-made Apache attack helicopters to government behind said actions: They're on their way.

According to Reuters:

The United States said on Tuesday it will deliver 10 Apache attack helicopters to Egypt, relaxing a partial suspension of aid imposed after Egypt's military ousted President Mohamed Mursi last year and cracked down violently on protesters.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel informed his Egyptian counterpart of the decision, which will help Egypt's counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai Peninsula, the Pentagon said.

"We believe these new helicopters will help the Egyptian government counter extremists who threaten U.S., Egyptian, and Israeli security," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement, recounting Hagel's conversation with Egyptian Defense Minister Colonel Sedki Sobhi.

Secretary of State John Kerry had paved the way by certifying to Congress that Egypt met key criteria for Washington to resume some aid.

Late last month, Human Rights Watch counted itself among those urging against the resumption of U.S. military aid to Egypt saying that the military regime in Cairo did not meet the standards set out by the State Department.

Since assuming power in the summer of last year, said Human Rights Watch in a statement,

Egypt’s military-backed government has killed well over 1,000 protesters and locked up more than 16,000 people, many solely on the basis of their peaceful exercise of rights to free expression, association, and peaceful assembly. The mass death sentences handed down by an Egyptian court to 529 alleged members of the Muslim Brotherhood on March 24, in a trial lacking even basic elements of due process, is but one example of an escalating climate of extreme political repression.

“The question is no longer whether Egypt is on the road to democratic transition, but how much of its brute repression the US will paper over,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “An accurate appraisal of Egypt’s record since the military-backed overthrow of President Morsy would conclude that, far from developing basic freedoms, the Egyptian authorities are doing the opposite.”

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