US withholds some military aid for Egypt: State Department



A youth with his face painted the national colors of Egypt as the country marks the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war on October 6, 2013.



The US State Department announced Wednesday that "certain large-scale military systems and cash assistance" to Egypt would remain on hold, pending progress toward an "inclusive, democratically elected civilian government."

The announcement came Wednesday afternoon, though the White House earlier denied that it was planning to cut all aid to Egypt.

"The reports that we are halting all military assistance to Egypt are false," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said earlier Wednesday, according to USA Today.

"We will announce the future of our assistance relationship with Egypt in the coming days, but as the president made clear at UNGA [the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York], that assistance relationship will continue."

Many media outlets, including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post, reported on plans to trim military aid to the troubled nation on Tuesday.

All the reports cited anonymous US officials, who said some of the money flowing to Egypt's miltary would be curtailed, while aid for counterterrorism efforts would be kept intact.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the State Department issued the following statement:

Though the State Department's statement did not give a monetary figure, the Associated Press cited a US official saying the aid being withheld included $500 million worth of Apache helicopters.

The United States will continue providing aid toward health, education, counterterrorism and security in the Sinai. Military training and education, as well as parts for American-made military equipment will also continue, the AP noted.

Reuters cited a congressional source who said the US would withhold deliveries of Abrams tanks, F-16 fighter jets and Harpoon missiles. The source also said Washington planned to hold a $260 million cash transfer and a $300 million loan guarantee to the interim government.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said Wednesday, "The relationship between Egypt and the United States is one of partnership, and not one of donor and recipient."

The news comes after an especially bloody month in Egypt, with at least 50 people killed on October 6 as anti-coup and Muslim Brotherhood protesters clashed with Egyptian security forces. More than 200 people were injured in the violence, while the country's interior ministry said more than 400 people were detained.

More from GlobalPost: Egypt's 'war on terror' throwing political transition off course

Adding to the tension is the latest news that Egypt's democratically-elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by a military takeover on July 3, will stand trial for murder in November.

Egypt's official MENA news agency reported that the trial of Morsi, who is charged with inciting the killing of protesters, will start on Nov. 4.

Egypt annually receives $1.55 billion in aid, with $1.3 billion going to the military. A review of assistance to Egypt was ordered in August, and The Times reported that $585 million of the military aid had not been disbursed.

Anonymous officials said the deliveries of tanks and aircraft would be suspended, according to the latest reports. The Obama administration had already halted the shipment of F-16 fighter jets in July and cancelled joint exercises.

Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt's military chief and defense minister under Morsi, also hinted Wednesday that he might consider a presidential run.

He told a newspaper that it was "God's will" whether he ran or not, but added that the "the time is not right to ask this question, given the challenges and dangers facing the country which require we focus our efforts on achieving the plan for the future."