Opponents of U.S. military aid to Egypt have grown more vocal since the most recent clashes between government forces and pro-Morsi demonstrators have left hundreds dead.
“While President Obama ‘condemns the violence in Egypt’, his Administration continues to send billions of taxpayer dollars to help pay for it. The law is very clear when a coup d’état takes place, foreign aid must stop, regardless of the circumstances,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said today. “With more than 500 dead and thousands more injured this week alone, chaos only continues to grow in Egypt. So Mr. President, stop skirting the issue, follow the law, and cancel all foreign aid to Egypt.”
Paul’s July 31 amendment to the transportation bill that would have redirected the $1.3 billion in aid to a fund for U.S. bridges was tabled on a 13-86 vote.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today that he called Egyptian Minister of Defense Al-Sisi to discuss the U.S.-Egypt defense relationship.
“Since the recent crisis began, the United States has made it clear that the Egyptian government must refrain from violence, respect freedom of assembly, and move toward an inclusive political transition,” Hagel said. “Recent developments, including the violence that has resulted in hundreds of deaths across the country, have undermined those principles. As President Obama has announced, the United States military will not conduct the Bright Star training exercise scheduled for later this year.”
“In my discussion with Minister Al-Sisi, I reiterated that the United States remains ready to work with all parties to help achieve a peaceful, inclusive way forward,” Hagel added. “The Department of Defense will continue to maintain a military relationship with Egypt, but I made it clear that the violence and inadequate steps towards reconciliation are putting important elements of our longstanding defense cooperation at risk.”
Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) said he supports the decision to suspend the military exercises but that’s not enough.
“The President should do more than simply issue hollow statements threatening to suspend our yearly $1.3 billion in aid to that country, he must actually end it. If America does not act in the face of what is obviously a military coup, we risk becoming irrelevant in one of the most important regions in the world. An America that is not taken seriously in the Middle East is an America that is at risk here at home,” Renacci said.
Before his golf game today, Obama said “given the depths of our partnership with Egypt, our national security interests in this pivotal part of the world and our belief that engagement can support a transition back to a democratically elected civilian government, we’ve sustained our commitment to Egypt and its people.”
“…Going forward I’ve asked my national security team to assess the implications of the actions taken by the interim government and further steps that we may take as necessary with respect to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship.”
The president played nine holes of golf today instead of his usual 18.