31 July 2013

Egypt: U.S. Won't Define Morsi's Ouster As Coup

President Barack Obama has decided not to honor legislation that would end US aid to Egypt.

Officials said the administration would not implement a 2010 law that stipulates halting US aid to any country that undergoes a military coup. They said the president has decided that the State Department would not make such a determination.

"No determination of a military coup in Egypt has been made," Sen. Bob Corker said. "It's possible that no determination will ever be made."

Corker's remarks on July 25 came after he and other senior House and Senate members met Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. Burns is said to have told the closed-door meeting that the State Department was not required to make a determination over whether the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi on July 3 represented a military coup.

Officials said most congressional leaders expressed understanding over the administration's decision. They said Egypt would be allocated its usual $1.55 billion in annual U.S. aid for fiscal 2014, which begins in October.

"Egypt is a very strategic country in the Middle East and what we need to be is an instrument of calmness," Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said. "We need to deal with our laws in such a way that allow us to continue to be that instrument of stability in

the region."

The House, despite the Republican majority, also appeared to support continued U.S. aid to Egypt. House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep.

Howard McKeon has supported the military ouster of Morsi and said Washington should reward the move.

"They [military] are not looking to run the country, they want to run the military, but they want the country to be democratic and that means in

the full sense of the word," McKeon said. "I think we have to be very careful to not do anything to disrupt their movement toward getting back to

democracy."

Officials said the administration would probably limit its dismay over the military ouster of Morsi through the decision to suspend the delivery of four F-16 Block 50 multi-role fighters. They said the F-16s, scheduled to arrive in Egypt in August, would probably be delayed for no more than several months. Egypt has already received eight of the 20 F-16s ordered in 2010.

"It's clear that the F-16s will arrive in Egypt, and the military there understands that," an official said.

Congress has been examining the revision of the law that mandates the severance of U.S. aid to any country that underwent a military coup. They said the House and Senate would deal with the issue when they return from their vacation in September.

"It's likely that very soon we will try to deal with this issue, which is a quandary, legislatively," Corker said.

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