20 days after the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, the United States administration is still determining whether a coup occurred; the classification may affect US financial aid to Egypt.
“This is a very complex situation, continues to be and we’re evaluating it every day,” said Jen Psaki, official spokeswoman for the US State Department during a press briefing on Monday. She refuted notions suggested by one reporter who asked if “the delay is due more to a lack of legal competence or the lack of a coherent policy?”
Soon after Morsi’s ouster US President Barack Obama instructed “the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under US law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney has said that an immediate change to the status of aid to Egypt “would not be in the best interests of the US,” although some US politicians, including Senator John McCain, believe Morsi was removed by a military coup and under US law financial assistance must be cut.
If the US were to determine that Morsi was overthrown by a military coup, then under US law foreign funding assistance must be cut, and could only be resumed following the democratic election of a government. In the meantime, the law would allow for “assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes.”
Psaki confirmed that the US is still providing aid during the transition period, adding: “there’s several different buckets of aid. We’re continuing to pay our bills and abide by our obligations here.”
The US currently provides $1.5bn worth of financial assistance to Egypt annually.
During the same press briefing Psaki refused to comment on whether the US defines Morsi as a ‘former president’ or a ‘deposed president,’ also refusing to say Morsi’s name in reference to calls for his release, although her counterpart Carney made a direct call for his release on Monday. The European Foreign Affairs Council also agreed on Monday to call for the release of Morsi and other political detainees.
Morsi is currently being held at an undisclosed military location.