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US Criticized by All Sides in Egypt

Egypt is in the top five countries that receive aid from the United States, getting an average of $2 billion a year since Cairo signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Most of that aid goes to Egypt's military. But both sides in Egypt - those who support the military's ouster of Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi and those against the army's action - are criticizing the U.S. government and President Barack Obama for what they say is a lack of support in their fight for democracy.

On the streets of Cairo many are angry over Washington's inaction as to whether the military's ouster of President Mohamed Morsi was a coup - an important legal distinction that would affect U.S. aid to the country.

Typical is the view of Cairo coffee shop owner Hajj Hosni Mahmoud, who says Egypt doesn't need the United States.

“America or any other [country] has nothing to do with us. We are free in our country, be it with America or without it, with Obama or anyone else. We care about our country and we do not need their aid, let them have their aid, we don’t want it, we only want our nation. Obama, Obama, let Obama keep the aid for themselves," said Mahmoud.

The United States says it does not support any particular political group in Egypt's current upheaval.

But Washington's continuing ambiguity angers Egyptians. One group celebrating in Tahrir Square made that clear by chanting, “Crazy America, we don't need your aid.”

When the U.S. recognized and worked with Morsi, the legitimately-elected Muslim Brotherhood candidate, people like Mahmoud Badr, who founded the Tamarod (rebellion) grassroots campaign that sought Morsi's overthrow, feel Washington sided with the Islamist movement.

“So how come the U.S. administration was and is supporting the Muslim Brotherhood? We are very surprised and strongly condemn it," said Badr.

On the other side of Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood is equally critical of Washington.

President Barack Obama should have denounced what was a military coup of a democratically-elected president, said Mohamed Soudan, a top official of the Brotherhood's political wing, speaking to VOA from the Egyptian city of Alexandria.

“It's very clear in the constitution of the United States, they should keep supporting the legitimacy, supporting the democracy, but now we are not seeing this very clear, it's not clear," said Soudan.

For now, condemning the United States is the only thing the two sides of the political divide here seem to agree on.
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    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.