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Obama Caught in Dilemma on Egypt

Obama Caught in Dilemma on Egypt i
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August 17, 2013
As the Egyptian military continues its bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other protesters, U.S. President Barack Obama is facing a dwindling range of options for dealing with the crisis. Mr. Obama has, so far, refused to cut off U.S. aid to Egypt's interim government, as VOA's Kent Klein reports from the White House.

VIDEO: As the Egyptian military continues its bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other protesters, U.S. President Barack Obama is facing a dwindling range of options for dealing with the crisis.

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Kent Klein
— As the Egyptian military continues its bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other protesters, U.S. President Barack Obama is facing a dwindling range of options for dealing with the crisis. Obama has, so far, refused to cut off U.S. aid to Egypt's interim government.

The president has made it clear that his administration is rethinking its dealings with Egypt's military.

“While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back,” he said during a Thursday announcement that the U.S. had cancelled upcoming, biannual joint military exercises.

Obama has avoided labeling the military's overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi last month as a "coup." Such a statement would automatically halt $1.3 billion of U.S. aid each year to Egypt's military. The White House is worried that doing so would diminish U.S. influence with the military leaders.

Some prominent American Muslims, including Mahdi Bray, were hoping for tougher action.

“We, the American Muslim Alliance, we want to make it very clear that we will continue a vigorous campaign of what we call 'no cash for coup' — calling for the immediate suspension of U.S. assistance [and] financial aid to Egypt as the result of, indeed, the coup,” said Bray.

Tarek Radwan, associate director for research at Washington’s Rafik Hariri Center, calls that a positive step. But he said the United States' ability to affect the behavior of Egypt's armed forces was fading.

“Because the engagement with Egypt has been so limited and so narrowly focused, we have very few options, and thereby have very little influence over what is going to happen now. The last semblance of assertive action that we can take is to, in fact, suspend military aid,” said Radwan.

Egypt's military leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, was probably willing to risk losing the U.S. aid, according to Daniel Serwer, a scholar at Washington’s Middle East Institute, because Egypt's neighbors were making much bigger donations.

“I think General Sissi, before this crackdown, must have calculated, ‘I lose the American assistance.’ What he calculated [was] that this was an existential struggle between him and the Muslim Brotherhood, and that he had to do this in order to survive,” Serwer said.

But Radwan said a stoppage of aid could have some impact. He did not believe the Egyptian military wanted to jeopardize relations with Washington.

“The aid is not only about the money. It is about the relationship itself. It is about the ability to engage with the United States, and cutting that off would begin a sense of isolation that I do not think even the Egyptian military would be very comfortable with,” said Radwan.

As the crisis continues in Egypt, Obama's policies are likely to evolve further.

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Comments
     
by: david
August 19, 2013 10:49 AM
cut all aid to general and its butchers NOW


by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
August 18, 2013 9:36 AM
President Obama or the US has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of Egypt or any country. How could Egyptians trust the US if the US provides political support to the ousted President Morsi and Moslem Brotherhood, at the same time providing 1.3 billion dollars every year to the Egyptian military? US should come clean before the US has any influence in international affairs. The best President Obama can do is to permanently stop all military aid to the Egyptian military and save dollars to balance the budget in the U.S..


by: ali baba from: new york
August 17, 2013 5:43 PM
if Obama has magic formula to deal with Egypt, he can use this formula in Afghisstan where 1000 American soldiers killed by radical Muslim. What Egypt did is appropriate for radical group such as Muslim brotherhood .Obama please get education about Muslim brotherhood behavior

In Response

by: Anonymous
August 18, 2013 8:19 AM
This is what happens when a country is led the lobby and not by what the general public wants.


by: Ann from: anywherebutMURICA
August 17, 2013 3:44 PM
Oh what a tangle web he weaves.

President : Weapon of Mass Destruction - Barry Ohbomber


by: Charlie123 from: Phoenix
August 17, 2013 3:24 PM
Headline is shallow. It is the civilized countries such as within Nato that have the dilemma not just Obama. Sure the USA has its aid program to Egypt but that aside it is a real dilemma whether to support democracy or military rule.


by: Climp Jones
August 17, 2013 3:06 PM
"...Obama's policies are likely to evolve further." Huh? Bozama is clueless. How is ones "policy" to " evolve" when one doesn't have one unless leading with ones behind is considered "policy."


by: nonation self from: 90405
August 17, 2013 2:48 PM
"there will be wars and rumours of wars" amen? - the war in egypt is between LAW ("legal framework" of egyptian military) and TRUTH (Islam) - the LAW was given because the TRUTH ("you will reap what you sow and sow what you reap") was denied - but the LAW is a LIE at best because "the strength of the law is sin" meaning the very thing that the law seeks to prevent or stop - but all duality is UNITY in REALITY so in REALITY a LIE and the TRUTH are ONE thing as GOD is the INFINITE ETERNAL ONE I AM WHAT I AM AMEN


by: Joe Thomas from: Oregon
August 17, 2013 2:45 PM
He's faced with dwindling choices because he has no idea of how to LEAD!!

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