WASHINGTON – The United States has halted military aid to Egypt, a Senate aide said Tuesday, describing what would be a rebuke of the once stalwart U.S. ally's crackdown on Islamist opponents and the military ouster of its president. Obama administration officials immediately rejected the claim.
David Carle, an aide to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said his Senate Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee has been informed the "transfer of military aid was stopped" amid ongoing Egyptian security operations against the Muslim Brotherhood supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
"This is current practice, not necessarily official policy, and there is no indication of how long it will last," Carle said.
Obama administration officials said they were reviewing U.S. aid to Egypt in light of the military's July 3 overthrow of the democratically elected president and the violent confrontations between security forces and demonstrators that have left almost 1,000 people dead in the last week. But it says no final decisions have been made, despite State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki's revelation Monday that Washington still hasn't delivered some $585 million — almost half the annual military aid package — for fiscal year 2013.
"There has been no decision to halt or to suspend assistance to Egypt," Pentagon spokesman George Little said Tuesday.
Another U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the issue publicly, said American companies are still being paid for Egypt aid programs and "nothing has stopped."
The administration also plans to spend all of the remaining military assistance money before the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, said the official.
National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.