U.S. Shouldn’t Be Selective About CAATSA Sanctions On India And Egypt

The U.S. has expressed its unsettlement with Egypt over its securing of Su-35 jets deal with Russia.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in a phone call on Tuesday. Among other things, he told the minister that the U.S. is looking closely at Egyptian plans to buy Su-35s for ~$2 billion. Nearly two years ago, the U.S. threatened sanctions under CAATSA if it purchases the jets. Even Turkey, a NATO-ally, was not spared from sanctions, which are imposed for buying Russian equipment. In Turkey’s case, it had bought S-400 missile systems for $2.5 billion.

The deal attracted the ire of the US, with threats of sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) regulation.

“The Secretary raised concerns over human rights, which he emphasized would be central to the U.S.-Egypt bilateral relationship, and Egypt’s potential procurement of Su-35 fighter aircraft from Russia,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

The Su-35 deal highlights closer military coordination between Russia and Egypt even as the latter reaps ~$1 billion in security assistance from Washington each year.

Additionally, Egypt bought a French Mistral amphibious assault ship that was originally built for Moscow. Cairo is mulling the purchase of 50 Ka-52K gunships from Russia for its Mistral boat.

The Egyptian Air Force signed the $2 billion deal to buy 21 Russian-made Su-35 fighter jets, including related equipment, on 18 March 2019 and has already accepted delivery of the first five Su-35’s in August, 2020.

India and Russia signed an Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) on 15 October 2016, during the BRICS Summit, for the supply of five S-400 regiments, and the subsequent $5.43 billion deal was formally signed on 5 October 2018, ignoring the threat of U.S. sanctions. Delivery of the first S-400 units to India is expected in the next few months.

After years of trying to buy our Patriot missile defense system for $3.5 billion and being refused when they asked for technology transfer as part of the deal, Turkey signed a $2.5 billion deal with Russia on 29 December 2017 to purchase two batteries of their much more capable S-400 missile defense system. The first S-400 battery was delivered on 12 July 2019, the second on 15 September 2019. The first U.S. sanctions under CAATSA for purchase of the S-400’s were applied to Turkey on 14 December 2020; over a year later.

It makes one wonder what was the purpose for USA selectively applying sanctions serves years after arms have been purchased from Russia and delivered to the host nations except to give the appearance of a fit of pique by the U.S.?

The State Department should have looked the other way with regard to imposing sanctions on Egypt and India because of volatile situation in the Middle East and Southeast Asia or support India because they oppose a mutual opponent, China? Egypt has been a key non-NATO ally of the US supporting peace and stability between Palestine and Israel conflict, — Israel, Palestine conflict could be the reason, the State Department hesitant to impose sanctions on Egypt.

Greece, a NATO often buys Russian military hardware such as S-300 favourite anti-air missile systems escaped CAATSA on the basis that CAATSA law didn’t exist when Greece bought S-300 systems from Russia.

Nevertheless it would have been more effective to build a cost-effective multinational missile defense system and initiate a multinational missile defense project to engage Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, UAE and India instead of selective CAATSA on Turkey, Russia and China but not on India, Greece and Egypt.

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