Hours after United States officials confirmed that plans to deliver F-16 fighter jets to Egypt will go ahead despite the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, President Barack Obama took a step back and ordered a review of U.S. assistance to Egypt’s government.
“Given the events of last week, the President has directed relevant departments and agencies to review our assistance to the government of Egypt,” said a Pentagon statement quoted by Al Jazeera.
Earlier Wednesday, officials told the Reuters news agency that the United States plans to go through with the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in the coming weeks.
“There is no current change in the plan to deliver F-16s to the Egyptian military,” said one official.
In February, Egypt received four F-16 aircraft from the United States, part of a group of 20 F-16s that are expected to be delivered to Egypt this year. They are part of the US$1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt.
The White House has been cautious about calling the Egyptian military’s ouster of Morsi a “coup,” noting that it will need to “review what has taken place.”
A decision to brand Morsi’s ouster a coup would, by law, require the Obama administration to halt aid to the Egyptian army.
On Saturday, Obama said the United States is “not aligned” with any political party or group in Egypt following Morsi’s ouster.
Last week, protesting Egyptians blamed Obama, who was a principal backer of the revolution against Hosni Mubarak and enthusiastically endorsed the election of Morsi, for the ousted president’s repressive ways.
Republican Senator John McCain has called for a suspension of United States military aid to Egypt following the latest events.
“I’ve thought long and hard about this, but I believe that we have to suspend the aid to the Egyptian military, because the Egyptian military has overturned the vote of the people of Egypt,” McCain said.
“We cannot repeat the same mistakes we made at other times in our history by supporting the removal of freely elected governments,” the 2008 presidential candidate said.