Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters
A boy stands with supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in front of soldiers and riot police during a protest against the military in Cairo on Oct. 4.
The State Department announced Wednesday that, as part of a "recalibration" of its relationship with Egypt, the U.S. would be curtailing aid to its military-run government until it demonstrates more of a commitment towards inclusiveness.
Senior Obama administration officials on a conference call with reporters would not specify exactly how much aid the U.S. would withhold, but one official said "we're talking hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance."
The cuts would affect large-scale military contributions: F-16 fighter jets, the sale of which had already been halted; M1A1 tank kits; Harpoon missiles and Apache Helicopters. It would also halt $260 million in cash transfers and a planned $300 million loan guarantee.
Military funding that affects the "vital security objectives" of both countries, including counterterrorism operations and security in the Sinai Peninsula — a chief concern of Israel — would be maintained, as would economic assistance that flows directly to the Egyptian people, like aid that promotes health, democracy, good governance and the private sector.
The halts in aid would not be permanent, an official said, but rather be contingent on progress in Egypt's democratic transition.
On July 3rd, Mohamed Morsi, the democratically elected president of Egypt, was removed from office by the Egyptian military, which has held power since then, overseeing violence among pro- and anti-military demonstrators.
On Wednesday, the government announced it would be putting Morsi, who has been detained since he was forced out of office, on trial for inciting the killings of his opponents.
American officials acknowledged that the withdrawal of some - far from all - U.S. funding, as well as an influx of cash from Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia, might not yield immediate changes in the Egyptian military's actions.
"I don't think anyone would claim there is going to be a direct line between decision we're announcing on assistance and immediate changes on the ground in Egypt," the official said.
Another U.S. official added that while Egypt's military leaders have been "saying the right thing" when it comes to understanding the importance of democratic progress, "it's important to us to see those things actually happen."
First published October 9 2013, 3:32 PM