Obama to decide on suspending aid to Egypt after Syria vote



Published time: September 04, 2013 22:58

US President Barack Obama (Reuters / Scanpix Sweden / Jessica Gow)

Top US national security aides have advised President Obama to suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in economic and military aid to Egypt because of remaining uncertainty after the Egyptian military forced the nation’s president out of power.

Egypt currently receives $1.5 billion in US aid annually – $1.3
billion of which is designated for the military. US officials
told the Associated Press that keeping the aid package intact
after Mohamed Morsi – Egypt’s first democratically elected
president – was ousted from power could benefit Washington’s
future influence in the Middle East. 

The Obama administration has carefully avoided calling Morsi’s
July 3 removal from power a “coup” – a designation that would
legally require the US to immediately halt aid payments. However,
it was previously reported that lawmakers are working under the
assumption that the Egyptian military did, in fact, forcibly
assume control.

President Obama has been considering the most recent
recommendation for at least a week, but he is expected to wait
until Congress votes on whether to launch a military strike
against Syria before making the announcement, the sources told
AP. 

Obama will decide how much, if any, aid will be suspended,
although officials are reportedly calling for a substantial
amount to be withheld. Those payments would presumably resume
after a new government was democratically elected. 

The administration quietly suspended most military aid and some
forms of economic aid in August while officials sought to
determine whether a coup had taken place. The White House has
maintained that the $585 million aid payment due to Egypt is not
technically on hold. US officials, who have until September 30 to
pay, have stated that “no final decisions have been
made
.” 

The US government could lose billions of dollars in potential
costs if Obama decides to cancel foreign military aid, deputy
director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency,
Richard Genaille, told Reuters on Wednesday. 

Egypt uses assistance provided by the American government to
purchase weapons and supplies from defense, security, and
technology companies. US weapons contractors stand to lose
millions of dollars if aid is suspended. Washington has already
decided to halt the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets built for
Egypt by Lockheed Martin, one of the largest defense companies in
the world. 

We’re kind of antsy about that,” Genaille said after
speaking at the ComDef industry conference. “There’s a whole
bunch of contracts out there. The bills keep coming in and we’ve
got to be able to pay them somehow, otherwise we go into
default
.” 

White House and State Department representatives have not
commented publicly on the matter, but national security adviser
Susan Rice has allegedly discussed so-called “wind up” payments
for defense contractors. The US government would reportedly
compensate the companies with hundreds of millions of dollars if
aid to Egypt was to be cut.

Republished from: RT