A statement by the US State Department announced that it approved the sale of Raytheon-made Rolling Airframe Missiles valued at $197m to Egypt on 17 February. The statement underlined that the decision would be subject to congressional review before being acted upon. Furthermore, the department highlighted Egypt’s continued importance as a strategic partner for the US in the Middle East.
The sale came at a time when the lawyer of a US citizen of Egyptian origin, who filed a lawsuit indicating that he was tortured while in Egyptian custody back in 2015, said six of his family members’ homes were raided on 14 February by plainclothes officers.
During his campaign in the 2020 Presidential Elections, Joe Biden said that he would undertake a stronger stance towards the Egyptian government during his tenure especially in terms of human rights, in comparison to his predecessor Donald Trump. Previously, Trump was noted to describe the Egyptian President Abdel Fettah el-Sisi as his ‘favourite dictator’, in a meeting of the two during the 2019 G-7 summit in France.
The purchase of the 168 tactical missiles was requested by the Egyptian Navy, with the intention of bolstering defenses in coastal areas in the Meditarranean and the Red Sea.