F-16 Fighter Jet 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has
decided to halt the planned delivery of four F-16 fighter jets
to Egypt, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, amid the unrest that
erupted after the military ousted Egypt's first democratically
The move came two weeks after Reuters reported US plans to
go ahead with the delivery of the F-16s, and shows how the
is struggling to respond to the removal of
President Mohamed Morsi and an ensuing surge in violence.
spokesman George Little
declined to specify
precisely what triggered the reversal but acknowledged what he
referred to as the "fluid situation" on the ground.
"Given the current situation in Egypt
, we do not believe it
is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of
F-16s," Little said, adding that Obama's decision was made with
the unanimous consent of his entire national security team.
Still, the Pentagon
said it did not believe it was in the
best interests of the United States
to suspend overall military
assistance to Egypt
, which totals about $1.3 billion a year.
Little said this year's Bright Star military exercise with
would go ahead as planned, for example.
Washington has been treading a careful line since Morsi's
ouster, neither welcoming it nor denouncing it as a "coup,"
saying it needs time to weigh the situation.
A US government
decision to call it a coup would, by law,
cut off US assistance to Egypt
said the White House
and the State Department
were still conducting a review into how to define Morsi's
"I would caution against premature conclusions with respect
to that (review) process of determining whether or not there was
a coup," Little said.
"This was a decision made about the F-16s and doesn't
necessarily reflect what the outcome will be in that process."
's military chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
for mass rallies on Friday to give him a mandate to tackle the
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
spoke with Sisi on
Wednesday to inform him of the decision to delay the delivery of
the jets, which are part of America
's $1.3 billion in annual
military aid to Egypt
and are built by Lockheed Martin Corp
They also discussed Sisi's call for rallies, Little said.