A Coup? Or Something Else? $1.5 Billion in U.S. Aid Is on the Line

(New York Times) Peter Baker - By all accounts, the generals removed the democratically-elected president, put him in detention, arrested his allies and suspended the constitution. But was it a military coup d'etat? Under U.S. law, President Obama has no choice but to cut off financial assistance to Egypt if he determines that Morsi was deposed in a military coup. Egyptian officials quickly argued that what happened was not a coup but a popular uprising. "It's not a coup because the military did not take power," said Mohamed Tawfik, the Egyptian ambassador in Washington. "The military did not initiate it. It was a popular uprising. The military stepped in in order to avoid violence." As one of the largest recipients of American aid, Egypt has long depended on Washington's beneficence, and the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has been reluctant to shut off the spigot, to keep the country committed to its longstanding peace agreement with Israel. As a practical matter, there would be little immediate impact if Obama concluded that the crisis constituted a coup, because Washington disbursed this year's military aid in May and presumably would not deliver more until next winter or spring. "The law by its terms dictates one thing, and sensible policy dictates that we don't do that," said Howard Berman, a former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "That's why the executive branch gets to decide whether it's a coup or not."

2013-07-05 00:00:00

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