No legal determination on Mursi’s overthrow, says U.S.

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
3 min read

The U.S. administration told Congressional leaders Thursday that its legal advisors believe that “the law doesn’t require us to make a formal determination as to whether a coup took place” in Egypt, a senior administration official told Al Arabiya.

“It’s not in our national interest to make such a determination,” the official said, adding that this would not necessarily sit well with the Egyptian military, which wanted the U.S. government to determine that the overthrow was brought about by massive popular demand, not by a traditional military coup.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, the most senior U.S. official to visit Egypt since the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi, briefed Congressional leaders.

Burns assured Congress that the administration would work with it “to determine how best to continue assistance to Egypt in a manner that encourages Egypt’s interim government to quickly and responsibly transition back to a stable, democratic, inclusive, civilian-led government that addresses the needs, and respects the rights and freedoms, of all its people,” the official said.

“We believe that the continued provision of assistance to Egypt, consistent with our law, is important to our goal of advancing a responsible transition to democratic governance, and is consistent with our national security interests,” the official added.

In the last two days, Washington has expressed dissatisfaction with the Egyptian military, particularly its call for nationwide rallies on Friday to support its determination to combat “violence” and “terrorism.”

It was clear from a number of officials that the U.S. administration was taken by surprise by the call, which was seen as “reckless” because it undermines the transitional civilian leadership and reinforces the view that the military is the ultimate power in Egypt.

The decision to withhold delivery of four F-16 fighter jets was taken immediately by the White House, which tasked Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel with informing his Egyptian counterpart.

U.S. officials are concerned by the continuing violence in Egypt, the prospects of further escalation, and what they see as the inability or unwillingness of the new authorities to contain the violence, which they believe can only be accomplished by a combination of military and political moves.

Sources familiar with Burns’s talking points in Cairo said he stressed this point in his talks with Egyptian officials, and he reiterated Washington’s position that Mursi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders who are detained without formal charges should be released, a move that would help contain the violence and facilitate an inclusive transition towards democratic civilian rule.

Top Content Trending