October 12, 2012 - 12:25 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Egypt has no foreign military bases on its soil and has no plans to downsize its armed forces, said the military spokesman, rejecting media reports claiming so, according to Reuters.
Military aid from the United States of $1.3 billion per year allows Egypt to reduce its defense procurement related costs, Colonel Ahmed Ali said in response to reports Egypt's army contracted with U.S.-based security companies.
"There are no American or foreign military bases in Egypt," Ali told reporters on Thursday, Oct 11. "There never has been and there never will be any foreign military bases in Egypt. This is a fixed stance in Egyptian national security policy to preserve national sovereignty. Any decision to install military bases in Egypt would be a political decision taken over many stages including presenting the matter to the national defense council and parliament for consideration. But this issue is farfetched."
There are 1,600 Multinational Forces and Observer troops from the United States, Canada, Australia, France and other nations in the Sinai to monitor the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty. The MFO facilities are sometimes mistaken for foreign bases.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a statement also denying the presence of U.S. military bases in Egypt.
"The security and stability of the armed forces cannot withstand being subject to suspicion or faulted analysis and guesswork resulting from lack of understanding of how the armed forces is managed," Ali said.
Ali also denied talk that the Egyptian army was being downsized, saying such talk was "illogical." Egypt's armed forces are the biggest in the region and U.S. WikiLeaks cables have cited there was pressure on Egypt to downsize its army.
Ali sought to explain the army's reliance on U.S. military aid, the subject of much contention among activists and officers within the military who say the aid arrangement was not in Egypt's defense interests.
"The U.S. offers Egypt military aid annually worth $1.3 billion," he said. "This aid is a contract in kind and not in cash. Egypt does not receive money but receives weapons, equipment and spare parts to develop its armament system. There are training missions to exchange expertise between the two countries."