The Obama administration announced on Wednesday that the U.S. government will be implementing a temporary and "modest" freeze on military assistance to Egypt. The Washington Post reported that American officials have emphasized that the U.S. does not wish to sever all ties with Egypt or destroy a security relationship that has lasted for more than three decades.
The moderation of assistance is a symbolic measure of the U.S. government's displeasure with the Egyptian military's violent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. U.S. officials have said that freeze on military assistance would include withholding Apache attack helicopters, Harpoon missiles, F-16 warplanes, M1-A1 tank parts, and $260 million from the general Egyptian budget. However, the U.S. would still provide aid for counterterrorism efforts in addition to assistance to protect Egypt's borders and secure Sinai. Programs to train and educate Egyptian military officials in the United States will not be part of the cuts, nor will aid for health care and education in Egypt.
A senior administration official told reporters that the freeze on military assistance is not meant to be a permanent measure and will continually be reviewed. The official added, however, that
It's fair to say that holding up hundreds of millions of dollars of assistance is a pretty clear message."
While the U.S. government appears to be attempting to crack down on the way Egypt has responded to the July upheaval that began in July and has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 people, some in Washington feel that the Obama administration is failing to send a real message to the Egyptian leaders who have imposed martial law and systematically repressed the opposition. Senator Patrick J. Leahy expressed his concerns, saying that
The administration is trying to have it both ways, by suspending some aid but continuing other aid. By doing that, the message is muddled."
The Egyptian government has, unsurprisingly, criticized the U.S. government's decision to withhold military aid, expressing concern about the timing of the freeze, but also expressing interest in continuing good relations with the United States.