(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada – October 11, 2013: Egypt criticised on Thursday a U.S. decision to curtail military and economic aid to Cairo after a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, although Washington stressed it was not severing ties with its long-standing ally.
The army-backed government insisted Egypt would not bow to U.S. pressure, saying it found the decision strange at a time when the country was “facing a war against terrorism”.
However, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington would consider resuming some of the aid “on a basis of performance” in following the interim government’s “roadmap” that promises to lead to fair elections.
Washington faces a dilemma in dealing with its major regional ally; Egypt controls the strategic Suez Canal and has a peace treaty with neighbouring Israel but its army overthrew in July the first freely-elected president, Islamist Mohamed Mursi, after mass protests against his rule.
In some of the worst civilian violence in modern Egyptian history, security forces crushed protests by Mursi’s supporters. Militant Islamists, who have been attacking Egyptian forces in the Sinai peninsula for some time, have begun staging assaults in or near major cities including Cairo.
The United States said on Wednesday it would withhold deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopters and missiles to Cairo as well as $260 million (162 million pounds) in cash aid, but left some other aid programmes intact.
The Egyptian cabinet criticised the announcement. “The government expressed the strangeness of the decision which was issued at such a vital time during which Egypt is facing a war against terrorism,” it said in a statement.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty also reacted with defiance. “The decision was wrong. Egypt will not surrender to American pressure and is continuing its path towards democracy as set by the roadmap,” he told the Radio FM station.
However, he also said Egypt was “keen on continuing good relations with the United States”.
The U.S. position exposes differences with its Gulf ally Saudi Arabia, which had welcomed Mursi’s removal and has lavished financial support to the new government. It also raises the question of where Egypt, the second largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel, could now turn for more military aid.