Washington (CNN) — In a dramatic shift toward a major Arab ally, the Obama administration announced a suspension of significant military aid to Egypt on Wednesday over the bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
The move, involving hundreds of millions in U.S. assistance to the Egyptian military, is the culmination of months of debate within the administration about how to respond to the July 3 ouster of former President Mohamed Morsy, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader.
“As a result of the review directed by President Obama, we have decided to maintain our relationship with the Egyptian government, while recalibrating our assistance to Egypt to best advance our interests,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. The Obama administration has still not labeled Morsy’s removal from office a coup.
Such a designation would require a cut in all but humanitarian aid, a step Obama has been reluctant to take. Last month, the president’s top national security advisers recommended he cut most of the aid to the military.
Officials have said Washington wants to maintain its relationship with the Egyptian military and interim government, and the statement noted the United States and Egypt still “have a “longstanding partnership and many shared interests.”
But after U.S. calls for Egyptian military restraint over the past few months were met with a crackdown on Morsy supporters, Obama canceled a joint military exercise and announced the review of all American aid to Egypt.
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