The United States is determined to go ahead with a major military exercise in Egypt despite the deadly violence in the wake of a military coup that brought down the government of Mohammed Morsi.
The Bright Star joint drill, dating back to 1981, will be conducted in Egypt in mid-September. The drill, carried out every two years, was cancelled in 2011 due to instability in Egypt following the downfall of Hosni Mubarak.
"We're planning on going ahead with it," US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at a Pentagon news conference on Wednesday.
This is as hundreds of pro-Morsi protesters have been killed since his overthrow nearly a month ago with demonstrations against the military showing no sign of abating.
Information Minister Dorreya Sharaf el-Din announced on Wednesday that the military-backed government has ordered the police to break up the sit-ins by Morsi supporters, saying they pose an "unacceptable threat" to national security.
Since the downfall of Morsi on July 3, the US government has refused to call the incident a coup as such a move would put an end to $1.3 billion in aid to Egyptian military. US law prohibits granting aid to a country where a democratic government is toppled by the military.
The Senate on Wednesday killed a measure from Sen. Rand Paul 86 to 13 that would have cut off US aid to Egypt and spent the money on crumbling bridges in the US.
“All I can see is the billions of American tax dollars that he [President Barack Obama] chooses to send overseas,” Paul said. “The president sends billions of dollars to Egypt in the form of advanced fighter planes and tanks while Detroit crumbles.”
“All military aid must end, that’s the law. There is no presidential waiver, the law states unequivocally the aid must end,” Paul said. “If we choose to ignore our own laws, can we with a straight face preach to the rest of the world about the rule of law?”