WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said it will soon make an announcement regarding its aid package to Egypt but denied that “all military assistance” would be cut.
A White House statement anticipating such an announcement came Tuesday evening in response to reports that the United States would cut off defense assistance to Egypt.
“The reports that we are halting all military assistance to Egypt are false,” said a statement attributed to National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “We will announce the future of our assistance relationship with Egypt in the coming days, but as the President made clear at UNGA, that assistance relationship will continue.”
UNGA refers to the United Nations General Assembly, which Obama addressed last month.
What was not clear in Hayden’s statement was whether assistance to Egypt, currently around $1.5 billion, $1.3 billion of it defense assistance, would be at all cut.
The Obama administration has come under pressure from some lawmakers in Congress to cut funding since a military coup unseated the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president, Mohammed Morsi, in July.
Other lawmakers have called on the United States to continue backing Gen. Abdel al-Sisi, the military ruler, in part because of his closeness to Israel and his pledge to maintain the 1979 Camp David peace accords.
U.S. law mandates a cut in assistance following coups, and Obama administration officials have been at pains not to use that word to describe Morsi’s removal.
Street confrontations between Egyptian troops and Brotherhood supporters and opponents since Morsi’s arrest have intensified.
According to U.S. officials quoted in reports by CNN and Reuters– the reports that prompted Hayden’s denial — the resultant chaos and the military’s heavy-handedness led to the decision to cut aid.