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Foreign PolicyGovernment

Egypt: US Law Makes It Unlawful To give financial aid during “coup d’etat”


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.

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