By Stephen Kaufman
The Obama administration has condemned the continuing violence in Egypt, including attacks on security forces in the Sinai peninsula and Christian institutions, and the deaths of Muslim Brotherhood prisoners held in detention.
Speaking to reporters August 19, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said there have been many instances of violence stemming from the political conflict between Egypt’s interim government and supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsy. She urged all sides to refrain from further bloodshed.
“There is absolutely no place for such violence in Egypt. We call on all Egypt’s leaders and the international community to condemn such attacks without equivocation,” Psaki said.
Psaki condemned an attack earlier in the day on a convoy in the Sinai peninsula that reportedly killed 24 Egyptian policemen.
She also said the United States deplores “the reprehensible attacks against over 40 Coptic Christian churches and other Christian institutions, including schools, social service societies and businesses, by extremists bent on sowing interreligious strife when the vast majority of Egyptians reject such behavior.”
Psaki said U.S. officials are also “deeply troubled by the suspicious deaths of Muslim Brotherhood prisoners and a purported prison escape attempt near Cairo.”
She said U.S. assistance to the Egyptian government has been under review since Morsy’s July 3 ouster by Egyptian security forces and subsequent attacks on his supporters, saying that “when hundreds of civilians are killed, it’s not business as usual.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters August 19 that senior U.S. officials have remained in contact with Egypt’s interim government and made it clear that they need to “follow through on their promise to transition back to a democratically elected civilian government in Egypt,” as well as to respect basic human rights.
“That includes … the right to peaceful protest, and it means the end of politically motivated detentions” and ending the recently imposed state of emergency, Earnest said.
He said the review of U.S. assistance is “ongoing.”
“There certainly are consequences for the actions that are taken by the interim government,” Earnest said, noting the recent cancellation of a U.S.-Egyptian military exercise and the delayed delivery of F-16 fighter jets to the country.
Earnest said U.S. officials are evaluating U.S. assistance based upon U.S. national security interests and U.S. legal obligations under the annual Foreign Operations Appropriations Act.
Along with military cooperation, ties between the United States and the Egyptian government include U.S. economic support, assistance through the International Monetary Fund and tourism, which plays a significant role in Egypt’s economy.
“This is a multifaceted relationship that we have with Egypt; we certainly value that relationship. I think that it’s fair to say that the Egyptian government does as well,” Earnest said.
Spokeswoman Psaki said the Obama administration’s review of assistance does not include Egyptian nongovernmental entities and programs designed to promote free and fair elections, health assistance, the environment, democracy, the rule of law and good governance.