CENTCOM Commander Votel Praises Egypt-U.S. Security Partnership

On 13 March, General Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), emphasized the importance of the Egypt-U.S. strategic security partnership in a prepared testimony before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

In his prepared testimony, Gen. Votel lauded Egypt as “an anchor of U.S. interests in the region” and reaffirmed the United States’ “steadfast” commitment to support Egypt in its fight against terrorism. He commended efforts by Egyptian Armed Forces to combat terrorism in the Sinai and other parts of Egypt, noting that CENTCOM has “observed improvement in the security of Egyptian maritime and land borders.”

Gen. Votel concluded his written testimony by underscoring that the U.S. “will look to strengthen our security cooperation partnership through continued engagement” in an effort to “help Egypt plan for its security needs on a long-term basis.”

For Gen. Votel’s remarks, please see his full written testimony or the excerpt below.

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Embassy of Egypt

Excerpt of the Statement of General Joseph L. Votel, Commander, U.S. Central Command
Senate Armed Services Committee

On the western edge of the CENTCOM area of responsibility, Egypt remains an anchor of U.S. interests in the region given its strategic location, demographic heft, religious and cultural influence, and its enduring peace treaty with Israel. Egypt is an essential partner in countering the flow of foreign fighters, materiel, and financial support to extremists transiting from Libya through Egypt into the Central Region. Egypt supports our overflight requests, ensures Suez Canal transit, and shares our commitment to defeat ISIS. The cornerstone of this relationship is our security assistance partnership. In one example of our intensifying joint efforts, in January 2018, we celebrated the successful signing of the bilateral Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CIS MOA), crowning over thirty years of effort to enhance security and counterterrorism cooperation.

ISIS-Sinai continues to conduct daily attacks against the Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) and security services, causing hundreds of casualties, while other extremist organizations have carried out attacks on the mainland. The United States commitment to continuing to support Egypt in this fight against terrorism, in bringing security for the Egyptian people, is steadfast. Until now, the EAF has contained most of the violence in the northeastern Sinai Peninsula; however, without a comprehensive whole of government strategy to defeat ISIS-Sinai, the threat will persist and grow. The United States is committed to working with Egypt to develop a comprehensive counter-insurgency strategy that addresses the underlying political, economic, and social conditions that give rise to extremist elements, while defeating the threats that plague Egypt and the region.

Through our partnership efforts, we have observed improvement in the security of Egyptian maritime and land borders. The EAF has shown some success stemming the flow of fighters and illicit material into Israel and the Central Region. We will look to strengthen our security cooperation partnership through continued engagement and with development of their counterterrorism/counter- insurgency strategy and capabilities, including the prioritization of FMF toward appropriate defense articles and training. In FY16 and FY 17, Congress appropriated up to $1.3 billion in FMF and $1.8 million in IMET. As a sign of our continued support of Egypt’s efforts, the President requested Congress continue to provide $1.3 billion in military assistance for Egypt in FY 2018, despite the increasingly constrained budget environment. Moreover, the United States and Egypt have elevated the strategic nature of the assistance relationship through mechanisms such as our Military Cooperation Committee and Defense Resourcing Conferences. Through these means we help Egypt plan for its security needs on a long-term basis.