US Admits: Saying 'Coup' In Egypt Betrays 'National Interest'
Obama's position clears path for continued military aid amid violent crackdowns and growing political tensions
In the case of Egypt, the Obama administration has found an easy way to circumvent a US law that limits aid to governments ruled by military coup.
Obama simply will not make up his mind about whether Egypt has undergone such a coup, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns told the Senate and House Thursday.
"The law does not require us to make a formal determination as to whether a coup took place, and it is not in our national interest to make such a determination," an Obama administration official later admitted to Reuters under condition of anonymity.
The silence offers a convenient loophole as the Obama administration struggles to maintain influence in Egypt amid ongoing political upheavals and mass movements.
Obama has been slammed by critics for his cynical support of whatever regime asserts authority in Egypt—whether Mubarak, Morsi, or the Supreme Council of Armed Forces—to cement US power in the region at the expense of the Egyptian people.
"America's primary concern, as always, is how best to preserve its interests in the region," declared Rachel Shabi last week in the Guardian. "Calling a coup a coup would legally bind the US to withdraw $1.5bn in aid to the army – and it's the army, whose chief attended America's top military academy, that keeps the US and its regional ally Israel happy."
The move comes despite documented military massacres of Morsi supporters by the military and ongoing (many fear growing) political violence and growing tensions.
The $1.55 billion annual payments in US military aid are key provisions of the 1979 Camp David Accords aimed at securing US and Israeli geopolitical power in the Middle East and North Africa. The US has continuously funded the Egyptian military for decades despite their backing of, and participation in, authoritarian regimes and rampant military human rights abuses, including torture and secret military trial of civilians.
As the Obama administration scrambles to build influence with the party in power, an emerging "Third Square" movement in Egypt is opposing both Muslim Brotherhood and SCAF rule. Sarah Carr with Mada Masr reports Friday:
In a leaflet distributed in the protest they describe themselves as "a group of Egyptians who protested on January 25 against the corruption of the [Hosni] Mubarak state... protested against [former head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Field Marshal Hussein] Tantawi's men who gave the army a bad name during the transitional period and protested against Morsi and religious fascism in order to call for early elections."