The Obama administration has decided to temporarily suspend the disbursement of most direct military aid, the delivery of weapons to the Egyptian military, and some forms of economic aid to Egypt due to the ongoing bloodshed in the Arab country, The Daily Beast reported Monday, citing Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
The office of Leahy, who heads the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, told the American news website the US government has decided privately to act as if the military takeover of Egypt was a coup, temporarily suspending most forms of military aid, despite deciding not to announce publicly a coup determination one way or the other.
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According to the report, aid to Egypt will be suspended while the US conducts a "broad review of the relationship" with Cairo.
The Daily Beast said the Obama administration’s public message is that $585 million of promised aid to the Egyptian military in fiscal 2013 is not officially on hold, as technically it is not due until Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, and no final decisions have been made.
"After sequestration withholding, approximately $585 million remains unobligated. So, that is the amount that is unobligated," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday. "But it would be inaccurate to say that a policy decision has been made with respect to the remaining assistance funding."
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But two administration officials told The Daily Beast that administration lawyers decided it was best to observe the law restricting military aid on a temporary basis, as if there had been a coup designation, while at the same time deciding that the law did not require a public announcement on whether a coup took place.
"The decision was we’re going to avoid saying it was a coup, but to stay on the safe side of the law, we are going to act as if the designation has been made for now," one administration official told the website. "By not announcing the decision, it gives the administration the flexibility to reverse it."
Several parts of the aid are now temporarily on hold, including the disbursement of the $585 million of $1.3 billion in fiscal 2013 foreign military financing still not delivered to the Egyptian military, the delivery of Apache helicopters that the Egyptian government has already paid for, and the depositing of economic support funds for programs that would directly benefit the Egyptian government, despite official administration denials, the administration officials told The Daily Beast.
A spokesman for Senator Leahy, David Carle, confirmed to CNN his office has been told the aid has been halted.
The New York Times reported Monday that Israel is planning to intensify its diplomatic campaign urging Europe and the United States to support the military-backed government in Egypt.
A senior Israeli official involved in the effort told the New York Times that Israeli ambassadors in Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and other capitals would lobby foreign ministers. At the same time, leaders here will press the case with diplomats from abroad that the military is the only hope to prevent further chaos in Cairo.
On Saturday, the New York Times quoted diplomatic sources as saying that Israel and Egyptian Defense Minister General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi have been in close contact.
These same diplomats say that Israel assured Egypt it did not have to worry about the US threat to cut its enormous aid package to that country.
Meanwhile in Egypt, authorities escalated their crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Morsi's
Muslim Brotherhood by arresting the Islamist organization's top leader overnight Tuesday.
Mohamed Badie, 70, was detained at a residential apartment in Nasr City in northeast Cairo "after information came to the security apparatus locating his place of hiding," the state news agency reported.
Reuters contributed to the report
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