State Department: US reassessing 'all forms' of Egypt relationship

Jen Psaki: It’s about the many layers of the relationship, including the important role Egypt plays in regional stability.

By JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
August 18, 2013 06:16
1 minute read.
An anti-Morsi protester waves an Egyptian flag as a military helicopter passes over Tahrir square.

Egypt flag waving with helicopter in background 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)

 
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If President Barack Obama decides to declare the Egyptian military's overthrow of deposed President Mohamed Morsi on July 3 a coup d'etat, Congress would be required to cut off aid to the country.

"It’s not about influence," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Thursday. "It’s about the many layers of the relationship, including the important role Egypt plays in regional stability."

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The State Department maintained on Thursday that it will not revisit its determination not to determine whether a coup occurred in Egypt. But Psaki added that, in light of recent events, the administration is reevaluating its aid to Egypt "in all forms."

President Obama cancelled a joint military exercise with Egypt on Thursday, and said that, so long as civilians are being shot in Egypt's streets, "traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual."

In July, ambassador to the US Michael Oren had said that Israel wanted the United States to continue providing foreign military assistance to Egypt.

"We have an interest in maintaining US influence and leverage in Egypt and an overriding interest in preserving our peace treaty," Oren told DefenseNews in an interview. "We want that aid to continue. We want that leverage. Once you pull it out, it's very hard to put back."

Chaos in Egypt - which led to the deaths of hundreds of supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi, and thousands more wounded at the hands of the country's military - has forced Washington to revisit the debate on its aid package to Egypt, which amounts to roughly $1.4 billion annually.

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Oren also said that America's commitment to Israel's qualitative military edge over its neighbors in the Middle East, or "QME," may require additional funds in light of shifting sands from the Arab Spring.

"When you think of the shifting landscape in the region, and the fact that some 70,000 increasingly accurate, lethal and long-range rockets and missiles are in the hands of Hezbollah— and our need to spend $1.7 billion to fence in the Egyptian border as a result of the Arab Spring— all that affects QME," Oren said.

"Then you need to think about the advances in military technology that America supplies to the region and how all that impacts our QME," he added. "It's all interconnected."

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