US reportedly secretly suspends aid to Egypt

Leading US senator tells Daily Beast Washington is placing military assistance on hold while reviewing relationship

US President Barack Obama talks to the media from Martha's Vineyard, earlier this month (photo credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
US President Barack Obama talks to the media from Martha's Vineyard, earlier this month (photo credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

The US government has reportedly temporarily suspended aid to the military-backed interim Egyptian government, a US senator told the Daily Beast on Monday night.

Washington has refrained from calling the July 3 ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi a coup but has nevertheless secretly decided to temporarily halt aid, without publicly announcing it.

“The decision was we’re going to avoid saying it was a coup, but to stay on the safe side of the law, we are going to act as if the designation has been made for now,” the Daily Beast quoted one administration official as saying. “By not announcing the decision, it gives the administration the flexibility to reverse it.”

According to the report, the government has “suspend[ed] the disbursement of most direct military aid, the delivery of weapons to the Egyptian military, and some forms of economic aid to the Egyptian government while it conducts a broad review of the relationship.”

The office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the head of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, told The Daily Beast on Monday that military aid to Egypt has been temporarily cut off.

“[Senator Leahy’s] understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law,” said David Carle, a spokesman for Leahy.

Earlier Monday, the US State Department said it condemns “all violence [in Egypt] regardless of the side it’s coming from,” but stalled on conveying whether the US intended to halt aid to Egypt, saying only that the matter was under review. At stake is over $1 billion in annual economic assistance.

“We have not made a policy decision to put a blanket hold on the economic support fund,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday during a briefing.

Last week, the US cancelled a joint military exercise with Egypt over the dawn crackdown on Wednesday of two sit-ins supportive of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency and a nighttime curfew. The bloodshed has since Wednesday claimed the lives of some 900 people.

“Our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual,” US President Barack Obama said of the cancelled exercise.

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