October 10, 2013 - 14:04 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Obama administration on Wednesday, Oct 9, announced a modest and temporary freeze on military assistance to Egypt, even as American officials emphasized their desire to avoid rupturing a security relationship that stretches back more than three decades, The New York Times reports.
To signal its displeasure at the Egyptian military’s bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, officials said, the United States would withhold the delivery of several big-ticket items, including Apache attack helicopters, Harpoon missiles, M1-A1 tank parts and F-16 warplanes, as well as $260 million for the general Egyptian budget.
But in a sign of how the administration is balancing its interests, senior officials said the United States would continue aid for counterterrorism programs as well as for Egypt’s efforts to protect its borders and secure Sinai, which has become a haven for extremists.
In announcing the decision, administration officials reiterated that the Egyptian military’s brutal repression of supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, was not acceptable. But in explaining their specific steps, American officials sounded as if they were reaffirming a valuable relationship rather than delivering a rebuke.
“This is not meant to be permanent; this is meant to be the opposite,” a senior administration official said. “It is meant to be continually reviewed.” Still, the official added, “it’s fair to say that holding up hundreds of millions of dollars of assistance is a pretty clear message.”
"We will continue to hold the delivery of certain large-scale military systems and cash assistance to the government pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections," state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, according to BBC News.
Among the assistance that will be untouched, officials said, are programs to train and educate Egyptian military officials in the United States; the delivery of spare parts for many American-supplied weapons; and aid for health care, education and the promotion of business in Egypt.
Egypt has criticized the decision. Foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said the decision was wrong and Egypt would "not surrender to American pressure and is continuing on its path towards democracy".