U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he was deeply concerned by the Egyptian military’s overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi but fell short of describing the ouster as a military coup.
President Obama did not call for ousted Morsi to be returned to power, nor did he condemn the Egyptian military for forcing him out of office and suspending the constitution.
Wednesday, Egyptian military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted President
A senior Egyptian army official said on Thursday that President Morsi was being held by the military.
Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. aid. The United States has lavished more than $70 billion in military and economic aid on Egypt since 1948.
The acknowledgement of a military coup would trigger automatic cuts in U.S. aid to the strategically important North African country.
After discussing the matter with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., CIA Director John Brennan, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other senior officials in the White House Situation Room, Obama finally urged the Egyptian military “to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible."
Obama repeated that the United States was not taking sides in the dispute.
“The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people,” the president said in a statement. “Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian constitution."
Obama said he had ordered the relevant U.S. agencies to “review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the government of Egypt.”
After days of unrest and only hours before Morsi was removed from power, State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki finally spoke out to criticize Morsi for failing to address the Egyptian people’s concerns.
U.S. State Department is ordering nonessential U.S. diplomats and the families
of all American Embassy personnel to leave Egypt.
Senior U.S. officials hailed Egypt’s first presidential election a year ago.