The arms race in the Mideast appeared to ratchet upward again on Wednesday night with news that Egypt is acquiring the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system that Iran recently bought from Russia.
An Israeli official confirmed the report, which had been in the Russian media earlier Wednesday, though Egypt had not acknowledged the sale.
“If you speak about the S-300, they [Egypt] are buying this system,” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “I don’t know what kind of threat Egypt looks at when they decide to buy it, but we don’t see Egypt as the enemy.”
An anonymous Egyptian official stated that, in terms of the missile system’s defense capabilities, “if we were to buy a system like this, it’s because we’re looking eastward, not northward,” referring to the Sinai, where Egypt has been combatting ISIS-affiliated groups.
A U.S. official said the Israelis have expressed “misgivings” over the deal but seem “resigned to it.”