Reuters reported Friday that the “Day of Rage” protests – staged by the Muslim Brotherhood supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi -- left “four dead in central Cairo and at least 12 killed in northern cities.”
The violence followed Wednesday's assault by security forces on two Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo that left hundreds dead, as security forces tried to end weeks of turbulence following the army's toppling of Morsi on July 3.
During Thursday’s statement from his vacation spot at Martha’s Vineyard, President Barack Obama – called out by Carl M. Cannon of Real Clear Politics on Aug. 5 for his habit of blaming his inability to solve America’s problems on someone else – chastised Egyptians for casting blame for the deadly unrest in their country on the United States and his administration.
"I know it's tempting inside of Egypt to blame the United States or the West or some other outside actor for what's gone wrong,” Obama said.
We've been blamed by supporters of Morsi. We've been blamed by the other side as if we are supporters of Morsi. That kind of approach will do nothing to help Egyptians achieve the future that they deserve.
But Obama did support Morsi.
Following his remarks at a July, 1 joint press conference at the State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania with President Jakaya Kikwete, a reporter – after noting that “when we saw similar protesting” against Hosni Mubarak that Obama “called on Mubarak to step down – asked if the escalating violence in Egypt would “cause” him “to reconsider the hundreds of millions of dollars -- even billions of dollars -- in aid the United States gives Morsi’s government?”
“When I took a position that it was time for Egypt to transition,” Obama said in his own defense, “it was based on the fact that Egypt had not had a democratic government for decades, if ever. And that’s what the people were calling for.”
But after admitting that he called for Mubarak to step down, and defending Morsi’s election as “legitimate,” Obama contradicted his “position” by saying “our position has always been it’s not our job to choose who Egypt’s leaders are.”
Then, after claiming during a July 3 statement that “the United States does not support particular individuals or political parties,” Obama called on the Egyptian military “to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters.”
Obama then threatened to cut off U.S. financial aid.“
"Given today’s developments,” he said of the July 3 military coup, which ousted Morsi, “I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the government of Egypt.”
However, while Obama denounced the violence in Egypt as deplorable during Thursday’s statement from Martha’s Vineyard and announced that he has cancelled next month’s Bright Star joint military exercises with Egypt – a move ABC News described as “a public attempt by the Obama administration to voice its displeasure with the interim government in Egypt for its crackdown against supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi” – he is “not pulling the $1.3 billion in annual foreign aid the U.S. provides to Egypt and the military-backed interim government responsible for the violence.”
“As Egypt descends into chaos,” Fox News reported Thursday, “President Obama is facing increasing criticism” for his “mixed messages” policy toward Egypt, which “is putting U.S. money and influence on the line without a clear end-game.”
"While President Obama 'condemns the violence in Egypt,' his administration continues to send billions of taxpayer dollars to help pay for it," Fox News quoted Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., saying in a statement on Thursday.
John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, called Obama’s current policy "completely incoherent."
That the Obama administration “has refused to label Morsi's ouster a coup,” Fox News noted that U.S. law allows the Obama administration to “continue to send $1.5 billion in annual aid to the Egyptian government.
Dalibor Rohac, a policy analyst with the Cato Institute, told FoxNews.com that the "equivocating" over whether to call the overthrow a coup is "truly embarrassing."
"The fact is,” Rohac added of Obama’s repeated claims of neutrality, “we are taking sides by sending them this aid money."
On Thursday – citing a litany of “embarrassing” contradictory statements and actions made by the president and members of his administration, The Washington Post’s editorial board published a scathing criticism of Obama.
Citing Obama’s warning that U.S. law requires the suspension of aid to any country where the military plays a “decisive role” in removing an elected government – and that Egypt’s military ignored his warning – the Washington Post noted that “the White House responded by electing to disregard the law itself.”
“After a prolonged and embarrassing delay, the State Department announced that it had chosen not to determine whether a coup had taken place,” The Washington Post admonished further, “and Secretary of State John F. Kerry” – whom CBS News reported on Feb. 1, 2011 had “called for President Hosni Mubarak to step aside and embrace the movement for a new Egypt” while still a Massachusetts senator – “declared that Egypt’s military was ‘restoring democracy.’”
“Because of those decisions,” The Washington Post concluded, “the Obama administration is complicit in the new and horrifyingly bloody crackdown launched Wednesday by the de facto regime against tens of thousands of protesters who had camped out in two Cairo squares.”
At least 278 people were reported killed Wednesday, including many women and children.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that -- so far -- at least 638 people have been confirmed dead and nearly 4,000 have been wounded.