WHITE HOUSE - President Barack Obama, reacting to the Egyptian military’s deadly crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protesters, has canceled U.S. joint military exercises with Egypt. The president spoke Thursday while vacationing at a resort in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
President Obama strongly condemned the mounting violence, the military-declared state of emergency and the crackdown on supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted last month.
“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," said President Obama.
“As a result, this morning we notified the Egyptian government that we are canceling our biannual joint military exercise, which was scheduled for next month. Going forward, I have asked my national security team to assess the implications of the actions taken by the interim government and further steps that we may take as necessary, with respect to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship," said Obama.
Related video report from Cairo by VOA's Elizabeth Arrott:
With that in mind, Obama said the United States would not hold its regularly scheduled drills with Egypt’s military.
But the president did not refer to the military takeover from the Morsi government as a “coup.” By U.S. law, such a designation would require Washington to cut off more than $1 billion a year in aid to Egypt, most of it to the military.
Obama did say the military’s recent actions have been a step in the wrong direction.
“And while we do not believe that force is the way to resolve political differences, after the military’s intervention several weeks ago, there remained a chance for reconciliation and an opportunity to pursue a democratic path. Instead, we have seen a more dangerous path taken," he said.
The president has said “America cannot determine the future of Egypt,” and that that is a task for the Egyptian people. He acknowledged that, while his administration has not taken sides in the Egyptian dispute, both sides are blaming the United States. Mr. Obama said that approach would do nothing to help Egyptians achieve the kind of future they deserve.