According to Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D-VT), the head of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, the United States has covertly cut off direct military aid, delivery of weapons and some economic aid to the present Egyptian government in the wake of recent violence. Acting as though the military executed a coup in ousting Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, while refusing to officially label the action a coup, most forms of military aid have been suspended.
David Carle, a spokesman for Leahy, told the Daily Beast, “[Senator Leahy’s] understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law.” The Obama Administration explains its position by noting that $585 million of aid to the Egyptian military that is due in fiscal 2013 is not officially due until Sept. 30 of this year, and thus is not technically being withheld.
Administration officials claimed that by restricting the aid without calling the military takeover a coup allowed the Obama Administration more flexibility. One said:
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. By not announcing the decision, it gives the administration the flexibility to reverse it.
On Monday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said:
After sequestration withholding, approximately $585 million remains unobligated. So, that is the amount that is unobligated. But it would be inaccurate to say that a policy decision has been made with respect to the remaining assistance funding . . . Programs with the government designed to promote free and fair elections, health assistance, programs for the environment, democracy, rule of law, and good governance can also continue in cases even where a legal restriction might apply. But to the extent where there are ESF programs that would benefit the government, which is obviously, a section, we are reviewing each of those programs on a case by case basis to identify whether we have authority to continue providing those funds or should seek to modify our activities to ensure that our actions are consistent with the law.
Some of the military aid cut off included $585 million of $1.3 billion due to the Egyptian military and Apache helicopters.
President Obama last week said, “While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back.” He made no such threat during the period when Morsi’s government cracked down on civil rights in Egypt.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel argued Monday, “Our ability to influence the outcome in Egypt is limited. It’s up to the Egyptian people. And they are a large, great, sovereign nation. And it will be their responsibility to sort this out.”