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News Analysis: U.S. unlikely to halt Egypt aid over Morsi's overthrow


08:21, July 12, 2013

CAIRO, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Although the United States has been "deeply concerned" about the recent military procedures that ousted Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, the world's big power is unlikely to cut off aid to Egypt as the move would penalize its own interests in the Middle East, say Egyptian observers.

What happened in Egypt is a coup or a popular uprising? This has been the most common question in the U.S. political arena since Morsi's ouster last week. Inability to clearly find out the answer has been the reason behind U.S. "reluctant" reaction to the situation in Egypt.

On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the Pentagon to "review" a U.S. 1.3-billion-dollar annual military aid to Egypt. On the other hand, the Pentagon itself has recently said it would continue sending four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in the coming few weeks, which is seen by analysts as a signal from Obama that his administration would not challenge Morsi's ouster as a coup.


The United States is exercising a kind of "soft pressure" on Egypt, it does not want to lose the most populous Arab state as a vital Middle East ally, strategic science professor and former assistant defense minister, Nabil Fouad, told Xinhua.

"The U.S. interests with Egypt might be more important than the Egyptian interests with the United States," said the expert, ruling out the possibility that Washington may take "a clash direction" in handling its relations with post-Morsi Egypt.

"The United States is not settled whether to label what happened in Egypt as a coup or a popular uprising, while the Republicans might be pressuring Obama to cut off military aid to Egypt," said Fouad, noting the Pentagon's plan to continue sending the F-16s to Egypt shows "U.S. uncertainty."

The White House made it clear that "it would not be in the best interest for the United States to immediately change our assistance programs to Egypt," as press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Monday.

Egyptian security expert Hossam Suweilam said that the United States "does not have the privilege of withholding its financial aid to Egypt as it represents part of the U.S. national security and interests in the Middle East."

"The United States is aware that Egypt may resort to other big powers like Russia or China, besides getting financial support from the oil-rich Arab Gulf states," Suweilam, also former chief of the Armed Forces' Center for Strategic Researches and Studies, told Xinhua.

He continued that the United States knew that maintaining aid to Egypt is "very important" to show U.S. support for the Egyptian popular will.


For his part, Emad Awwad, a political science professor at Cairo University, said that Washington firstly showed an " ambiguous" reaction similar to that in January 2011 when a popular uprising toppled Egypt's strongman Hosni Mubarak.

"The United States is now in a process of assessing the gains and losses of the situation," Awwad told Xinhua, adding that reconsidering aid to Egypt and, at the same time, approving sending F-16 fighter jets to the turmoil-stricken country shows it wants to be cautious until future developments unfold.

"The U.S. has interests in Egypt and it does not care who rules the country but who preserves its interests," the professor continued, noting Israel, the U.S. No.1 regional ally, has a great influence on the U.S. reaction.

He added that the United States may not want another conflicting position with Russia, whose quick and clear response and criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt implied its support for Morsi's ouster.

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