The White House is reportedly denying that it is suspending aid to Egypt in response to the military government’s violent crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohammad Morsi which has left thousands of Egyptians dead or wounded.
The Daily Beast reported on Monday that according to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the “U.S. government has decided privately to act as if the military takeover of Egypt was a coup, temporarily suspending most forms of military aid, despite deciding not to announce publicly a coup determination one way or the other.”
Leahy’s “understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law,” said Leahy spokesman David Carle.
But according to Yahoo News’s Oliver Knox, the White House said that “the report that we have suspended assistance to Egypt is incorrect.”
Experts and analysts have gone back and forth about whether the U.S should cut off aid to Egypt, which totals more than $1 billion per year, and some have criticized the Obama administration for its measured response to the crisis. Indeed, it’s unclear how much the U.S. can do. “Our ability to influence the outcome in Egypt is limited,” U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Monday. “It’s up to the Egyptian people. They are a large, great sovereign nation. And it will be their responsibility to sort this out.”
A new Pew poll found that a majority of Americans (51 percent), want the U.S. to cut off aid. But “the biggest takeaway” form the poll, the National Journal notes, is that “[m]any Americans aren’t really paying close attention to the escalating crisis that has already seen more than a thousand deaths.” Just 22 percent said they are following the news out of Egypt “very closely.”
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that America’s closest allies in the region, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, “ are undercutting American policy in Egypt, encouraging the military to confront the Muslim Brotherhood rather than reconcile.”
CNN reported on Tuesday that the Obama administration is “reprogramming” funds to Egypt but that “in effect, Washington is temporarily holding up some military aid to that country as it prepares for the possibility that future aid could be cut.”
In other news:
- The AP reports: A top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader says the election of centrist Hasan Rouhani as the country’s president gives an opportunity to world powers to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear program — but that Tehran will never again suspend its nuclear activities.
- Reuters reports: Iran appears to be holding back growth of its most sensitive nuclear stockpile by continuing to convert some of it into reactor fuel, diplomats said on Monday, potentially giving more time for negotiation with world powers.
- The New York Times reports: A Pakistani court indicted Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday in connection with the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the first time that a former military leader has faced criminal proceedings in Pakistan.