Apparent Egyptian Military Coup Puts Obama in Bind on Aid

The military ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday places the Obama Administration in a difficult situation

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Mohamed Abd El Ghany / REUTERS

Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi gather to demand his resignation in Cairo's Tahrir Square on July 2, 2013

Update at 7:10 p.m.: President Obama’s statement on Wednesday’s developments

The military ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday places the Obama Administration in a difficult situation: if President Obama accepts that a coup has taken place, U.S. law will force him to cut off American military and economic aid to one of America’s closest Middle East allies.

Under federal law, U.S. nonhumanitarian aid must be cut off to “the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’état or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d’état or decree in which the military plays a decisive role.” The developments in Egypt appear on their face to fit the bill precisely. In the past, the U.S. has cut off aid to Mauritania, Mali, Madagascar and Pakistan following coups.

“The law is pretty clear,” said Jon Alterman, a Center for Strategic and International Studies scholar, who formerly worked for the policy-planning staff at the U.S. State Department. “This is going to be an issue.”

At stake is $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt’s military, or about 20% of the funding for the country’s most stable public institution, which removed Morsi from power Wednesday after weeks of escalating protests and demonstrations. Another $250 million in annual economic aid could also be at risk.

Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on the State Department and Foreign Operations, said aid to the Egyptian military should be cut off following the military takeover. “Egypt’s military leaders say they have no intent or desire to govern, and I hope they make good on their promise,” he said. “In the meantime, our law is clear: U.S. aid is cut off when a democratically elected government is deposed by military coup or decree.”

The White House and the State Department did not respond Wednesday afternoon to developments in Egypt, though aides say Obama has been regularly briefed on the situation. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to specify earlier Wednesday what would constitute a military coup, though she affirmed the U.S. recognition of Morsi as the democratically elected leader. “I’m not going to speculate,” she said, speaking one hour before Morsi was removed from power. “I’m not going to get ahead of where we are in the process or where things are on the ground.”

Egyptian military officials have argued that their actions do not constitute a coup. Retired General Sameh Seif el-Yazal said on CNN Wednesday that the ousting of Morsi was not a coup because the military would not take on an enduring role in Egyptian politics. There is some precedent for the U.S. government hedging on a legal determination of whether a coup has taken place. In 2009, after the President of Honduras was removed from office, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the event a “coup” at a press conference, but then added, “We are withholding any formal legal determination.” Aid to Honduras was eventually suspended for a time under a different provision of U.S. law.

Already U.S. aid to Egypt was operating under federal appropriations law requiring a congressional certification that the country is meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty and “is supporting the transition to civilian government including holding free and fair elections; implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, and due process of law.” Those requirements could be waived by the Secretary of State, a step taken by both Clinton and John Kerry.

No such waiver appears allowed in the case of a military coup. Federal law allows Obama to reinstate aid only “if the President determines and certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office.”

Obama is unlikely to face much pressure from Republicans in Congress to cut off aid. In a statement Wednesday afternoon, House majority leader Eric Cantor praised the Egyptian military for taking action, saying, “Democracy is about more than elections.”

“Egypt’s stability is tremendously important for America’s national security and for the security of our allies in the Middle East,” he said. “The Egyptian people have made clear that President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government has threatened the pluralistic democracy for which they called two years ago.”

PHOTOS: Egyptians Protest the Rule of Morsi, Celebrate Ouster

46 comments
Saied2013
Saied2013

As a matter of fact what happened in Egypt against  the legal president Morsi is regarded as a miltary coup.

SamirElfiky
SamirElfiky

we hate U.S.A when she speaks about Egypt ! what happend is a military coup and go to see the real Egyptian in Raba'a al A'dwya 

CheErMohamed
CheErMohamed

why you just stay away from ma country ..... Obama is facing Millions of Egyptians who lead 30th of June revolution... what happened is not a coup, Once  this president was deposed the whole people all over the country get out for celebrating and share  their happiness with each other..... we all as Egyptians wanna live in peace and dignity.......God Bless EGYPT and EGYPTIANS 

alkholidoc
alkholidoc

You might be a blind not to watch more than 30 millions of Egyptians in streets and demonstrating against fascist president supporting terrorists to threat and attack civilians in Egypt. I think you are deaf to say that there was military coup in Egypt, because you can hear the voice of crowds shouting" Leave" ,even here in the USA we were able to hear that voice coming from Egypt  . It is the second wave of Jan 25th revolution but it is 7 duplicates at least that time.

AhmedSiddek
AhmedSiddek

On 30 June, a large sector of the Egyptian people completed 25 Jan revolution after the failure of Morsi and the Brotherhood of meeting the demands of citizens and achieve the goals of the revolution,  millions came out, wanted early presidential elections, the Brotherhood enter as a faction political but they refused all options , didn't leave any option except people draw against each other, which may result in violence ... National army sided with the people after they asked them ... I hope that the world is biased to the option of a large faction of the people and knows that it was will of the people and not a military coup ... By the way, I hope that my president dispenses the U.S. aid


DougOz
DougOz

Why do we borrow money to give it to other countries?

Can't they just borrow it themselves?

You can't buy friends.


hebatullahsabbah
hebatullahsabbah

It was never a military coup. Why do some people are spreading lies? the new president is not a member of the army and the chief of the armed forces had no intention to take over the power. Stop it please!

HendRefai
HendRefai

 it's a military coup

the army is in the streets and there are many street wars between army and Morsi supporter 

there are many killed last night in Matrouh and El Menia even in Sinay they gave hte army 24 time limit so they bring back the Prisedent Morsi or they will take control of Sinay which is in the line with Israel

roknsteve
roknsteve

Zeke, are you a stupid bunny!  This has nothing to do with Pr;es. Obama.   

ahmed_yakout
ahmed_yakout

Actually there is a coup, but a popular coup on the authority of an extremist religious authoritarian Mursi and his group, such as the Mubarak regime and his party, such as tyranny and the same oppression

In the past, there is a contract between the people and the Mursi Mursi he breaks the terms of the contract there are 22 million Egyptians have signed the paper form to go Morsi

There is no good security ..There is no social justice ... And too many problems

There also was a failed government is unable to offer anything to the citizen 

 Morsi was known as the demands of the people and the opposition, but he did not respond to those demands .. Because of this must pay a high price

For U.S. aid There is a famous saying of the late leader, "Gamal Abdel Nasser" aid on the shoe .. I think clear 

We are free and do not concern us aid America cancels free aid does not want to cancel .. this freedom 

But that was canceled aid must cancel the "Camp David"

Because the agreement stipulates that compulsory assistance .. This is not begging you nor pity nor granted

AhmedHamdy
AhmedHamdy

It is not a coup! If it is; Miliary should taking place now. But it is not!

greyghost5632
greyghost5632

We need to take to the streets here, and get rid of obummer!!!  Let's go!!!!!!

greyghost5632
greyghost5632

We need the same thing to happen here in America!!!  illegal alien amnesty, a soon to be failed health care plan(obummer care) and everything that obummer does is screwed.  We need a new PRESIDENT now!!!

Adam_Smith
Adam_Smith

Isn't it fascinating how policy makers can always interpret their way out of a legal box? It makes one wonder why we bother to have laws in the first place. Oh wait, I almost forgot -- it's because they still apply to the rest of us.


ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

Wont be surprise if Obama cut off aid to  Egypt. Morsi is  a devout muslim which makes him a perfect leader in the eyes of Obama. Coptic Christians are being harassed and discriminated against and you do not hear anything from the twerp. But Muslims are another story.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Maybe make a minor executive redefinition of coup such that a coup "attempt" isn't resolved until such a time as the next leader has been determined and as they put someone in provisionally as a transition individual until the upcoming election takes place, they get until that date for the attempt to be resolved as having overthrown or not overthrown a duly elected government?

PrincessNona
PrincessNona

the egyptian army support the egyptian wishes and the egyptian people before the egyptian army dont wantAmerican military and economic so obama must be smart and dont make the egyptian hate him


 

OlaElSayedElToukhi
OlaElSayedElToukhi

To all my non Egyptian friends that are getting their news from the Western media. What is happening now in Egypt is NOT a military coup. It's the People's Revolution against a fascist, fanatic regime. 33 million Egyptians are out in the streets to kick Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood OUT once and for all. The media, especially CNN is depicting the picture that they want you to believe since the American administration supports this fanatic, terrorist government. The Egyptians have spoken with a completely free will power to change this country around. The army is by our side to protect us and protect our beloved Egypt.

copied. share.

HalaRashadGomaa
HalaRashadGomaa

This is not a military coup this an Egyptian revolution against Muslim brotherhood and their president stop taking about military coup this what all Egyptian want.

AhmadYahia
AhmadYahia

@hebatullahsabbah Of course it's a military coup ! who can dare to deny that ?! if your opinion is the opposite, it will be of your great mistake to ask the other opinions to be like you leaving their common sense just to be like you. welcome in democracy.

alkholidoc
alkholidoc

@HendRefai You are telling lies. You are fascists and terrorists and you can recheck your bloody history. Can you count the number of civilians you killed? Your ex-president made Sinai and entire Egypt a home for terrorists from all the world. I think you are blind and deaf not to be able to watch at least 30 millions of Egyptian in the streets on Jun 30th not in all Egyptian governorates . Morsi is fascist and terrorist.

DougOz
DougOz

@ahmed_yakout  I'm okay with cancelling the "Camp David". You can't buy peace or friends. Only abide by "Camp David" if it works for you.

I agree there is no need nor room for begging or pity. Just two countries trying to do the best they can in their own interest. There is no need for money to be exchanged in this relationship.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@greyghost5632 Go for it. The founding fathers would be proud, of idiots like you attempting to overthrow a legally elected government.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ReneDemonteverde Morsi was also the legally elected president of Egypt. What exactly did you want Obama to do? The Muslim Brotherhood is the Egyptian version of our Tea Party. Funny how you hate one and admire the other.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

The cool part of that solution is that it's actually true

mustafijcom
mustafijcom

@OlaElSayedElToukhi - So, why Morsi is now home arrested ? you have tolerated unelected Mubarak for twenty five years,But won't tolerate elected Morsi only five years ?  

you need to ballot papers to prove People's Revolution. we will wait to see that . 

mustafijcom
mustafijcom

@HalaRashadGomaa - So, why Morsi is now home arrested ? you have tolerated unelected Mubarak for twenty five years,But won't tolerate elected Morsi only five years ?  

you need to ballot papers to prove People's Revolution. we will wait to see that . 

greyghost5632
greyghost5632

@mantisdragon91 @ReneDemonteverde Wrong!!!!  The election was rigged!!  Why don't you wake up!!  I have been to EGYPT, three times, and see how the religious leaders are!!  The islamist, like islamist everywhere, belive their way or death!!  Death to all infidels and you are an infidel, unless you are one of them!!!!

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@ReneDemonteverde

Thank you for wasting my time with pointless hatedom and random speculation rather than substantive discussion or thought.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@mantisdragon91 @greyghost5632 @ReneDemonteverde What would I have Obama do ? Try to have some cojones instead of those two marshmallows dangling between his legs. Geez. Declare support for the military. It is about time we act to our own interests. The military is the only stable force in Egypt and it is the only force that stands between the imposition of Sharia and Egypt. Since you liberals are so fond of using minorities as cover up, think about the Chrisitans, the gays, the secularists.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@greyghost5632

Your second claim does not demonstrate the first and I'd be careful in presuming that such opinions are restricted to Islamists.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@greyghost5632 @mantisdragon91 @ReneDemonteverde The election was supervised by multiple international observers and they all said it was fair. I'm not a fan of religious extremists of any kind. Neither the Muslim Brotherhood or the GOP, but I have yet to see any evidence that says otherwise.