Egypt’s New Defense Minister Pledges Strong Ties with the U.S.
The new Defense Minister appointed by Egypt’s Islamist President has pledged to uphold the strong military ties between Cairo and Washington, Pentagon Chief Leon Panetta said.
Egypt's new top Military Officer is a known commodity in Washington who has long-standing ties to the U.S., Obama administration officials said earlier this week, playing down the impact of Sunday’s power shake-up in Egypt.
U.S. military contacts with General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who was appointed Defense Minister on Sunday, date back more than 30 years to a U.S. infantry basic training course he took at Fort Benning in Georgia in 1981, officials said. More recently, he has met with senior U.S. officials including President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism adviser.
U.S. officials expressed confidence that General Sissi will maintain close ties with the U.S., which provides Egypt with $1.3 billion a year in military aid, and uphold Egypt's peace deal with Israel.
General Sissi was appointed after President Mursi dismissed powerful Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and canceled a constitutional declaration that had buttressed the military's expansive political power in the wake of last year's ouster of then-President Hosni Mubarak.
However, Mursi has given awards to the nation’s two top military Commanders, two days after he ordered their retirement.
Tantawi and his Chief-of -Staff, Lt. General Sami Anan, made their first public appearance to receive the nation’s highest medal.
U.S. officials said that as a former Head of Egyptian Military Intelligence, General Sissi has close ties to the U.S. military and intelligence agencies.
Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, dined with General Sissi during a visit to Cairo in October, a sign to the visiting Americans that General Tantawi wanted to put General Sissi forward as a future leader. General Sissi has also had extensive contact with the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson.