Washington : The U.S. on Wednesday suspended deliveries of major military hardware and cash assistance to Egypt because of lack of democratic transition and continued blood shed in the country.
U.S. has been providing almost $1.5 billion to Egypt each year.
White House said on Wednesday that the decision to freeze the aid is not permanent and it could be restored if “credible progress” is made toward setting up an inclusive government in the wake of the military coup.
The Egyptian military leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said his country's relations with the United States are good. But Egypt will not tolerate any pressure from outside forces.
The consequences of suspending aid extend beyond Egypt. The move will anger Gulf states, push Egypt to seek assistance from U.S. rivals and loosen decades of U.S.-Egyptian ties that that have been a bulwark of stability in the Middle East.
Neighboring Israel also has indicated concern. The Israelis consider the U.S. aid to Egypt to be important support for the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.
“The United States continues to support a democratic transition and oppose violence as a means of resolving differences within Egypt,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday. “We will continue to review the decisions regarding our assistance periodically and will continue to work with the interim government to help it move toward our shared goals in an atmosphere free of violence and intimidation.”
The State Department did not provide a dollar amount of what was being withheld from Egypt. Part of the withheld aid is $260 million in cash assistance to the government and a planned $300 million loan guarantee, according to congressional aides. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak by name about the briefings that State Department officials gave members of Congress.
U.S. officials said the aid being withheld included 10 Apache helicopters, at a cost of more than $500 million, and M1A1 tank kits and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The U.S. had already suspended the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets and canceled biennial U.S.-Egyptian military exercises.
The U.S. will continue to provide support for health and education and counterterrorism, spare military parts, military training and education, border security and security assistance in the Sinai Peninsula, where near-daily attacks against security forces and soldiers have increasingly resembled a full-fledged insurgency.
The U.S. officials providing the details did so only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment by name.
The State Department stressed that the long-standing U.S. partnership with Egypt would continue and added that there was no intent by the Obama administration to end any specific programs. Still, the decision puts ties between the U.S. and Egypt at their rockiest point in more than three decades.
The White House initially welcomed Morsi's election last year. But his relationship with President Barack Obama cooled as his conservative Islamist government offered only tepid support of women's freedoms, his Muslim Brotherhood supporters attacked protesters, and he was unwilling or unable to create an inclusive government.
The cutoff of some but not all U.S. aid also underscores the strategic shifts underway in the region as U.S. allies in the Gulf forge ahead with policies at odds with Washington. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, are strong backers of Syrian rebel factions and were openly dismayed when the U.S. set aside possible military strikes against Bashar Assad's government.
The Gulf states also feel increasingly sidelined as Washington reaches out to Iran, their rival. Iran had moved quickly to heal long-strained ties with Egypt following Morsi's election but now is redirecting its policies with Egyptian leaders who don't share Tehran's agenda.