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U.S. to cut off most military aid to Egypt

BALI, Indonesia — The Obama administration is expected to announce curbs on most nonessential military aid to Egypt within a few days, the Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed U.S. official. The move marks a stunning turnaround for U.S. relations with one of its key Arab allies.

The official would not provide details or figures about the aid to be suspended, but the action is likely to cover most of the $1.2 billion in military assistance to Egypt. The official spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because Congress has not been fully notified, and the announcement could be postponed.

The move comes more than three months after a coup that toppled former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, and after repeated attempts by Washington to get firmer commitments from the interim military government about a calendar to move toward elections and a return to civilian rule.

The Obama administration had tried to persuade the Egyptian military not to use force to oust the democratically elected Morsi nor end street encampments by his Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and warned that a cutoff of aid was possible.

The large block of aid, which is mostly used by Egypt to order U.S.-made defense equipment like Apache helicopters and F-16 warplanes, is a bedrock of U.S. security and diplomatic policy in the Middle East. The administration had already suspended the transfer of some military equipment.

The money, historically second only to U.S. annual aid to Israel, is hinged to Egypt's decision more than 30 years ago to make peace with the Jewish state. Egypt and Israel work closely on border security in the Sinai, along the Gaza border and elsewhere.

The administration has been reviewing aid since the July coup, and was loath to suspend it for fear that the money provided what little leverage the United States had to promote a quick return to civilian rule.

U.S. to cut off most military aid to Egypt 10/08/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 11:16pm]
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