The United States suspended a major portion of its $1.3 billion aid program to Egypt, which includes military and financial assistance, until Egypt achieves “credible progress” in instituting a democratically-elected government, the State Department announced on Wednesday.
The decision to halt the delivery of Apache helicopters, Harpoon missiles, F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 tank parts and about $260 million in economic aid came three months after Egypt’s military toppled President Mohamed Morsi, despite Washington's refusal to label his ouster a coup. The announcement also follows reports that Morsi, who has been held in detention at a secret location since being deposed on July 3, will stand trial on Nov. 4 on charges of inciting murder and violence.
“We have decided to maintain our relationship with the Egyptian government, while recalibrating our assistance to Egypt to best advance our interests,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement. “We will continue to provide parts for U.S.-origin military equipment as well as military training and education. We will, however, continue to hold the delivery of certain large-scale military systems and cash assistance to the government pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections.”
Psaki added that the U.S. will continue to work with the interim government to provide support in areas such as health, education and private sector development, as well as in securing Egypt's borders against terrorism and proliferation.
A senior administration official said protests on the country's streets and July's events showed that “an awful lot of Egyptians” were not satisfied with the way Morsi was governing and “we do recognize that.”
“But we also recognize that the interim government has a lot of work to do itself, and … suspending hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance … is a pretty clear message that we care about the things that we say we care about,” a senior administration official told reporters according to the transcript of a conference call organized by the State Department.
Morsi is expected to stand trial over charges related to violence outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Dec. 5, 2012, when thousands of people protested against Morsi’s decision to call a referendum on a draft resolution that was passed by an Islamist-dominated assembly following a boycott by secular members, Mena state news agency reported. Egypt’s security forces were accused of failing to intervene when clashes erupted between the protesters and supporters of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, leading to the killing of at least 10 people at the time.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel conveyed Washington’s decision to Egypt’s military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in a “very friendly” call on Wednesday, another administration official said.