The Obama administration told lawmakers Thursday that it won’t declare Egypt’s government overthrow a coup, U.S. officials and lawmakers said, allowing the United States to continue providing $1.5 billion in annual military and economic aid to the Arab world’s most populous country.
William Burns, the State Department’s No. 2 official, held closed-doors briefings with House and Senate members just a day after Washington delayed delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt. It was the first U.S. action since the military ousted Mohammed Morsi as president, imprisoned him and other Muslim Brotherhood members and suspended the constitution earlier this month.
The administration has been forced into difficult contortions to justify not declaring a coup d’etat, which would prompt the automatic suspension of American assistance programs under U.S. law. Washington fears that halting such funding could imperil programs that help to secure Israel’s border and fight weapons smuggling into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, among other things seen as critical to U.S. national security.