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White House Rules Out Suspending Military Aid To Egypt

Not surprisingly, the Obama Administration said today that it is not going to see to suspend military aid to Egypt based on the fact that there was a military coup:

The White House called on all sides in Egypt on Monday to refrain from violence and return to democracy but rejected an immediate cutoff of American assistance despite a law requiring the suspension of aid to countries after a military coup d’état.

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters that the Obama administration would study the events in Egypt to determine whether the military seizing of power constitutes a military coup d’état under law. But he added that the administration planned to take its time in making such a determination and ruled out any suspension of aid in the near term.

“We think that would not be in our best interests,” Mr. Carney said. “We are going to examine this and monitor this and take the time necessary in making the determination in a manner that’s consistent with our policy objectives and our national security interests.”

He added, “But we do not believe that it is in our interests to make a precipitous decision or determination to change our assistance program right away.”

The White House hopes to use the leverage of $1.5 billion annual aid to Egypt to shape events without actually cutting it off, even as violence has spiraled in the days since the military forced out President Mohamed Morsi. Shutting down aid at this point, White House officials have said privately in recent days, would reduce their ability to forestall further violence and repression of dissent in Egypt.

(…)

The Foreign Assistance Act says no aid other than that for democracy promotion can go to “any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’état,” or where the “the military plays a decisive role” in a coup. The law allows no presidential waiver, and it says that aid cannot be restored until “a democratically elected government has taken office.”

Since 1979, Egypt has been the second-largest recipient of American aid after Israel. Mr. Obama has proposed $1.3 billion in aid to the Egyptian military and another $250 million for economic aid in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. But the most recent transfer of military aid took place in May, so the next tranche would most likely not go to Egypt until early next year at the earliest.

Egyptian officials have argued that the military’s ouster of Mr. Morsi last week did not constitute a military coup because it came in response to millions of Egyptians who had flooded into the streets protesting the government run by Muslim Brotherhood figures. They added that the military installed a civilian interim president.

As I noted yesterday, the U.S. simply has too many interests involved in Egypt, the idea that we were going to let the statute stop the aid from going forward was simply silly.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. As I noted yesterday, the U.S. simply has too many interests involved in Egypt, the idea that we were going to let the statute stop the aid from going forward was simply silly.

    Unfortunately the law requires us to do so, unless we’re going to pretend the coup that just occured wasn’t a coup, which is just as silly.

    If we have a problem with a silly law, the solution is to repeal the silly law. Not allow the President to ignore the law when he feels like it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. Dave says:

    If this is such a silly law, then why was it passed? Who are the “movers & shakers” behind this silly part of the law. The law of unintended consequences. A law which a certain section of the country seems will never understand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  3. edmondo says:

    Obama is ignoring this law and he just unilaterally deferred implementing the employer mandate in his own heathcare bill. Should I wait up tonight to read the long list of Democrats who will be on this board bemoaning the administrations extralegal over-reach?

    I didn’t thing so.

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  4. anjin-san says:

    @ Stormy Dragon

    The “law” you cite appears, at least at a glance, to be tied to a single fiscal year – 1999. It does not look like the law of the land. Perhaps someone with some expertise could weight in, I could be wrong on this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. @anjin-san:

    That text block is boilerplate required in every aid appropriations bill by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. I was just pointing to that as a convenient example. If you want a more recent version, here’s the equivalent bill from 2012.

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  6. Dave Schuler says:

    When aid is regular and unconditional it stops being an effective lever if, indeed, it ever was. It’s just ambient. Part of the baseline.

    That’s our situation with Egypt. We always give aid. We always waive any requirements.

    How is that in the U. S. interest?

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