The U.S. ended its year-and-a-half–long hold on military aid to Egypt on Tuesday, putting an end to sanctions that were imposed in the wake of the military coup that led to the overthrow and imprisonment of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
President Obama announced the administration’s change of heart during a phone call with Morsi's successor, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Withholding military support for the longtime ally was meant as a condemnation of the anti-democratic turn in Cairo following the Arab Spring. Since Morsi’s overthrow, however, the strategic political terrain has shifted dramatically for the U.S., with Egypt fighting both ISIS in Libya and Houthi rebels who have toppled the U.S.-backed government in Yemen.
“The White House said President Barack Obama was freeing up the equipment and making other changes to military ties with Washington's long-time ally to support U.S. interests while encouraging Egypt's political reforms,” Reuters reports. “Obama directed the release of 12 Lockheed Martin F-16 aircraft, 20 Boeing Harpoon missiles, and up to 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits made by General Dynamics, National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said.”
“The President also advised President al-Sisi that he will continue to request an annual $1.3 billion in military assistance for Egypt,” according to the White House. Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid after Israel.