Preparations underway for renewed US-Egypt military talks

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Preparations are underway to resume formal US-Egyptian military cooperation talks as early as next month, almost two years after the last round at the Pentagon was cut short by the January 2011 protests that toppled the Mubarak regime, veteran national security journalist Viola Gienger reports on the front page:

“Planning is ongoing for the resumption of the MCC, as early as this fall,” Navy Cmdr. Scott McIlnay, a US military spokesman, confirmed to Al-Monitor. Egyptian officials said the talks likely would be scheduled for sometime after the Nov. 6 elections.

The plan to revive discussions represents a desire by the US to quickly normalize military relations even as administration officials and members of Congress proceed warily with a new Egyptian government led by a president aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.

US officials are quietly debating how to update military ties to reinforce civilian control of Egypt’s armed forces, advance democratic transparency in its finances and build a more modern approach to securing the country beyond Abrams tanks and fighter jets.  […]

Former Egyptian foreign minister and Arab League chief Amr Moussa, in an interview with Al-Monitor‘s Cale Salih this week, singled out for praise new Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s achievement in retiring Egypt’s military council from its predominant role in Egyptian political life.

“The Egyptian people were satisfied that the SCAF’s political life has come to an end,” Moussa told Al-Monitor. “This move was supported not because Morsi did it, but because it had to be done. When that happened, in August,  civilian rule started and military rulers, governors and presidents came to an end. On that date, the system that was created by the revolution of 1952 came to an end.”

“The role of the army is …to defend the country and to be trained and be in the best shape ever,” Moussa added. “Not to rule, not to govern, but to be always ready to defend the country.”

(Photo: Retired former Egyptian Defence Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi (L) shakes the hand with Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi after receives a high medal “The Nile Collar” at the Presidential Palace in Cairo August 14, 2012.REUTERS/Egyptian Presidency/Handout )