The $1.5 billion in U.S. foreign aid slated for Egypt next year is in jeopardy after the Egyptian army deposed democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday.
Section 508 of the decades-old Foreign Assistance Act stipulates that “none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by a military coup or decree.”
A clause in the 2011 omnibus bill strengthens the provision, excluding from American aid any nation experiencing a “coup d’etat or decree in which the military plays a decisive role.”
Although events in Egypt appear to conform perfectly to these criteria, it’s unclear whether the Obama administration will cut off revenue to the strategically important nation anytime soon.
“Given today’s developments, I have directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt,” President Barack Obama said in a statement released Wednesday evening.
But the president also refused to call the takeover a coup, indicating his administration’s wariness to label events in Egypt before deciding how to proceed.
Time reports that the $1.3 billion marked for the Egyptian military in 2014 is around 20 percent of that organization’s total budget. Without that money, the army may be unable to keep the peace should an extended confrontation develop between Morsi’s supporters and opposition activists.
“The Egyptian military has long been a key partner of the United States and a stabilizing force in the region, and is perhaps the only trusted national institution in Egypt today,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a statement Wednesday.