muslim brotherhood - morsi banners 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The US will not make a determination of whether or not events in
Egypt last month constituted a coup, a State Department official has told
Instead of defining the events that toppled president Mohamed
Morsi with one word, the US will continue to evaluate the situation as unique,
complex and ongoing, officials said last week.
Legally, the government is
not required to make such a determination, said US Deputy Secretary of State
William Burns – and it is not within the interests of the US to do
Determining that Egypt underwent a coup on July 3 would force the US
government to comply with a decades-old law prohibiting foreign aid to countries
that have experienced such events.
According to the law, most aid must
stop to “any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by
military coup d’etat or decree” or toppled in “a coup d’etat or decree in which
the military plays a decisive role.”
The Obama administration and
majorities in both parties in Congress have expressed their desires to continue
the annual $1.55 billion aid package to Egypt, after the military terminated
Morsi’s presidency before the end of his term.
spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday that a team of lawyers had
approved this policy path, and that the administration does not plan on
revisiting the question.
It does, however, plan on “continuing to work
with Congress” on “ongoing” developments.
While the US will not cut off
aid fully, nor will it call what happened a coup d’etat, the White House
announced that it would hault the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets
Egyptian military in light of “the current situation.”
The majority of
lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and America’s allies in the Middle East, have
expressed anxiety at the prospect of cutting off Egypt’s aid and privately
celebrated the policy sidestep by the administration.
But critics of the
determination warn that choosing to ignore the law, instead of seeking a waiver
for Egypt’s situation or an amendment to the law through Congress, sets a
“There was a coup in Egypt. It meets the exact legal
definition of a coup,” says Dany Pletka, vice president of foreign and defense
policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
“The fact that the
administration has chosen to ignore both the coup and the law are of a piece
with this administration’s behavior in a whole variety of areas.”