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UPDATE: No Decision Yet On Egyptian Aid, White House Says
Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 2:02 pm
(We put a new top on this post at 11:50 a.m. ET and added a new development being reported by the AP at 2 p.m. ET.)
The Obama administration is still reviewing U.S. assistance to Egypt and it's incorrect to say that such aid has been "secretly" put on hold, the White House said Tuesday.
That message from a National Security Council spokeswoman follows a report in The Daily Beast, which we posted about earlier, quoting a spokesman for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who said it's the senator's understanding that "aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law."
Such policy decisions haven't yet been made, according to the NSC. Just before 2 p.m. ET, though, The Associated Press reported that it had learned from "officials" that there would be a "Cabinet-level meeting Tuesday to discuss cutting some Egypt aid."
Earlier, The Daily Beast wrote this about the administration's official position vs. what has been happening with aid to Egypt since the July 3 ouster of President Mohammed Morsi:
"The administration's public message is that $585 million of promised aid to the Egyptian military in fiscal 2013 is not officially on hold, as technically it is not due until September 30, the end of the fiscal year, and no final decisions have been made.
" 'After sequestration withholding, approximately $585 million remains unobligated. So, that is the amount that is unobligated,' State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday. 'But it would be inaccurate to say that a policy decision has been made with respect to the remaining assistance funding.' "
Our original post from 7 a.m. ET — headlined "Egypt: U.S. Aid 'Secretly' Halted; Brotherhood Leader Arrested" — follows.
Among the latest news about the crisis in Egypt:
-- Aid. "The Obama administration has decided to temporarily suspend 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 Daily Beast is reporting. It's getting the news that such aid has been "secretly" cut from "the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the head of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee."
"[Senator Leahy's] understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law," David Carle, a spokesman for Leahy, tells The Daily Beast.
The law he's referring to requires that aid be suspended to nations where a military "coup" has supplanted a democratically elected government. While the Obama administration has not called the July 3 ousting of President Mohammed Morsi a coup, "two administration officials told The Daily Beast that administration lawyers decided it was best to observe the law restricting military aid on a temporary basis, as if there had been a coup designation."
Any suspension of U.S. aid may have little effect on Egypt. As The New York Times writes, while "Europeans and the United States considered cutting cash aid to Egypt, Saudi Arabia said Monday that it and its allies would make up any reduction — effectively neutralizing the West's main leverage over Cairo."
Related post on the Parallels blog: "The U.S. Defense Contractors That Benefit From Aid To Egypt."
-- Arrest. "Egypt's military-backed rulers are pressing on in their crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood with the arrest early Tuesday of the group's spiritual leader who had been in hiding near the huge sit-in in support of the country's ousted Islamist president, which security forces violently dispersed a week ago, leaving hundreds dead," The Associated Press writes.
The wire service adds that "the arrest of Mohammed Badie — the supreme leader of the Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which ousted President Mohammed Morsi hails — followed a chaotic day of bloodshed that saw 25 policemen killed in a militant ambush in Sinai and a court ruling announcing the possibility that the jailed ex-president Hosni Mubarak could walk free later this week."
Related post on the Parallels blog: "Muslim Brotherhood: A Force Throughout The Muslim World."
-- Autocracy. On Morning Edition Tuesday, NPR Cairo bureau chief Leila Fadel said it's increasingly looking like Egypt is returning to the type of autocratic rule it experienced before the toppling of Mubarak's regime in 2011. "Every sign seems to indicate that it is," she said: A state of emergency has been declared, a curfew has been imposed, soldiers and police officers are patrolling the streets and state-controlled TV stations are "heralding this moment."
"There's a deep sadness" among the young revolutionaries who protested against Mubarak, Leila added. "They're caught in this battle between two pretty much undemocratic organizations — the military and the Muslim Brotherhood."