The U.S. government has decided privately to act as if the military takeover of Egypt was a coup, temporarily suspending most forms of military aid, despite deciding not to announce publicly a coup determination one way or the other, according to a leading U.S. senator.
In the latest example of its poorly understood Egypt policy, the Obama administration has decided to temporarily suspend the disbursement of most direct military aid, the delivery of weapons to the Egyptian military, and some forms of economic aid to the Egyptian government while it conducts a broad review of the relationship. The administration won’t publicly acknowledge all aspects of the aid suspension and maintains its rhetorical line that no official coup determination has been made, but behind the scenes, extensive measures to treat the military takeover of Egypt last month as a coup are being implemented on a temporary basis.
The office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the head of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, told The Daily Beast on Monday that military aid to Egypt has been temporarily cut off.
“[Senator Leahy’s] understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law,” said David Carle, a spokesman for Leahy.
The administration’s public message is that $585 million of promised aid to the Egyptian military in fiscal 2013 is not officially on hold, as technically it is not due until Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, and no final decisions have been made.
“After sequestration withholding, approximately $585 million remains unobligated. So, that is the amount that is unobligated,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday. “But it would be inaccurate to say that a policy decision has been made with respect to the remaining assistance funding.”
But two administration officials told The Daily Beast that administration lawyers decided it was best to observe the law restricting military aid on a temporary basis, as if there had been a coup designation, while at the same time deciding that the law did not require a public announcement on whether a coup took place.
“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,” said one administration official. “By not announcing the decision, it gives the administration the flexibility to reverse it.”
Read more at The Daily Beast.