President Barack Obama on Wednesday ordered the US government to assess the aid it currently sends Egypt. The order was given in response to the ouster of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday by the military.
While the review was ordered, the US president stopped short of calling Morsi’s ouster a coup. In a very carefully worded statement, Obama explained that he is “deeply concerned” about the situation in Egypt.
Given the events of this week, Obama added that he will order the government to assess what the Egyptian military actions amount to and what effect they will have on US foreign aid to Egypt. Obama added:
“I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process.”
President Obama also urged the Egyptian authorities not to arrest the former President Morsi or his supporters. He added that the United States will not take sides in the conflict. Rather, it will commit itself only to democracy and respecting the rule of law.
Under United States law, the government is required to suspend foreign aid to a nation whose elected leader is ousted during a coup d’etat. And there are many people around the world who believe that is what happened in Egypt, though it appears the military was acting at the urging of the majority of the Egyptian people.
Along with ordering a review of foreign aid, the US State Department has ordered all nonessential US diplomats to leave the country, along with all the families of American embassy personnel.
Along with ousting Morsi, the Egyptian military also enacted a temporary civilian government, suspended the country’s new constitution, and called for new elections to take place to replace the former president.
On Wednesday afternoon, Obama spoke to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Attorney General Eric Holder, and national security adviser Susan Rice in the White House Situation Room. After the meeting, he released the statement, which also explained that the military should expect the rights of Egypt’s citizens to due process and peaceful assembly. He added:
“The voices of all those who have protested peacefully must be heard, including those who welcomed today’s developments, and those who have supported President Morsi.”
It is unclear when the United States will decide whether or not to suspend foreign aid to Egypt.
[Image via Center for American Progress Action Fund]