United States Poised to Halt Some Military Aid to Egypt

The White House is expected to announce in the coming days the suspension of at least some military aid to Egypt. Late Tuesday a National Security Council spokeswoman denied that the Obama administration would halt all military assistance to Egypt, but suggested that an announcement about the future of the US assistance to Egypt is imminent.
American military aid to Egypt is a pillar of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and widely considered the keystone to stability in the region.

Delivery of tanks, fighter jets, and helicopters are on the list of nonessential military aid to be halted, as is nonmilitary aid directly to the Egyptian government, but funds for counterterrorism efforts, such as those underway in the Sinai, will continue.

These as yet unconfirmed reports come in the wake of July’s military coup against then-president Mohamed Morsi, which the US administration avoided calling a coup, which would have required the immediate suspension of aid to the country. It comes as no surprise that the military aid package is at risk. Following violence in July, the administration froze the shipment of four F-16 fighter jets, cancelled joint military exercises with the Egyptian Army, and began the process of reviewing the more than $500 million in US aid to Egypt.

In late July, Michele Dunne, Atlantic Council vice president and director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, commented on PBS Newshour that the Egyptian military leadership had not taken seriously any US advice, and that while the United States was reluctant to cut Egypt off—given the country’s size, importance, and proximity to Israel—the United States would face a “whole different question” in the coming weeks.

“If there really is this full-on confrontation between the Brotherhood and the military, and a real crackdown; the question for the United States is going to become, ‘can we be complicit in this? Can we continue to send aid to a military that’s carrying out this kind of repression?'”

It appears, given the expected statement this week, that the Obama administration has taken time to contemplate the questionable nature of military aid to Egypt.