Amid increasing domestic and international pressure on the U.S. to suspend its aid to Egypt’s military-backed government following its crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, Saudi Arabia -- a close U.S. ally -- on Monday, pledged financial assistance to the North African nation to fill gaps left by withdrawal of aid from Western nations.
The announcement came two days after Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz extended support for Egypt’s military-backed interim government, denouncing “whoever is trying to interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs,” which was considered as being in line with Saudi Arabia’s historic stance siding with Egyptian military.
“To those who had declared they are stopping aid to Egypt or are waving such a threat, the Arab and Muslim nations are wealthy with their people and resources and will not shy away from offering a helping hand to Egypt,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said, according to news reports citing state news agency SPA.
Abdul Latif Minawi, the former head of Egypt’s state television, told Al Arabiya that the Saudi position is in response to “Western positions, which are difficult to understand.”
“If Western leaders plan to repeat the Libyan scenario in Egypt, this will not be achieved in Egypt,” Minawi said.
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Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department, said no policy decision has been made “to put a blanket hold on economic support” to Egypt.
“Funding that goes to nongovernmental entities in Egypt would not be affected,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a press briefing, in response to questions about a New York Times report, which cited unnamed U.S. officials as saying that President Barack Obama’s administration had taken preliminary measures to suspend financial aid to Egypt.
“Programs with the government designed to promote free and fair elections, health assistance, programs for the environment, democracy, rule of law, and good governance can also continue in cases even where a legal restriction might apply,” Psaki said, adding that the department is reviewing financial aid programs designed to specifically benefit the Egyptian government on a “case-by-case” basis.
On Thursday, President Obama canceled U.S.-Egypt joint military exercises, and hinted that U.S. economic assistance to Egypt, which amounts to $1.5 billion a year, could be cut off if Egypt’s interim government did not stop its crackdown on pro-Morsi protesters.
In July, the U.S. had withheld the planned delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, as part of the second installment of a military-aid package of 20 aircraft.
On Tuesday, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, was detained at a residential flat in Nasr City, a statement on the Brotherhood’s website said.
After days of deadly clashes that have claimed hundreds of lives, Cairo's streets were empty due to a curfew imposed on Monday night, BBC reported.