State Department officials say the US continues to review its policy toward Egypt in light of events there, but they suggest the Obama administration continues to believe that it would be neither in US national security interests nor in the interest of regional stability for the US to cut or suspend aid to Egypt’s military rulers.
Administration officials also intimate that US-mandated consequences would be unlikely to compel Egypt’s rulers to take certain actions or to follow a different path anyway.
“We can’t force a solution here,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, speaking with reporters after Kerry’s statement. “We can play a productive role.”
Rather than emphasizing consequences, at least for now, the US will continue to press Egypt’s interim civilian government and military rulers to refrain from violence and instead turn wholeheartedly to fostering a political transition that includes free and inclusive elections and the delivery of a new constitution.
“Our focus is on getting back to a sustainable path to democracy,” Ms. Psaki said.
The US response echoed that of other world powers, including the European Union, which last week joined the US on a diplomatic mission to Cairo to dissuade Egyptian authorities from resorting to violence in the standoff with Morsi supporters. Egypt’s military rulers rebuffed the international efforts at reconciliation, deeming them a “failure.”
EU officials condemned Wednesday’s violence and urged restraint. “The reports of deaths and injuries are extremely worrying,” said Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. “We reiterate that violence won’t lead to any solution and we urge the Egyptian authorities to proceed with utmost restraint.”
But many human rights organizations found the US position wanting, and urged the Obama administration to shift course and to underscore its condemnation of Egypt’s violence by suspending aid.