Egypt violence: US hardens its tone, but is criticized as too soft (+video)
Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the crackdown by Egypt's military but announced no sanctions, leaving critics to suggest US policy toward a key Mideast partner is ineffectual.
The United States hardened its rhetoric toward Egypt’s rulers in the wake of Wednesday’s repressive violence, which left scores of Egyptians dead. But it stopped short of slapping the country’s military leaders with any practical sanctions – deepening the sense of a US policy toward a key Mideast partner that is both passive and incoherent.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Continued Turmoil in Egypt
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Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the Egyptian military’s crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi as “deplorable.” In a statement to reporters Wednesday afternoon, he said reaching a political solution to Egypt’s deteriorating crisis “has been made much, much harder, and much, much more complicated by the events of today.”
The US also “strongly opposes” the military leadership’s declaration of a “state of emergency,” Secretary Kerry said. He called on Egypt’s rulers to end the state of emergency “as soon as possible.”
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Violence appeared to be spreading across Egypt after security forces stormed the Cairo camps of protesters led by Mr. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Kerry’s statement appeared in part to be an effort to correct an impression of US passivity left earlier in the day by a White House spokesman who said “the world is watching” events unfolding in Egypt. But State Department officials were at pains to explain why the military’s repressive violence, undertaken despite intense US diplomatic efforts last week to avoid such an outcome, did not result in any consequences.
The US annually provides $1.6 billion in assistance to Egypt, most of it in military aid.
State Department officials say the US continues to review its policy toward Egypt in light of events there, but they suggest the Obama administration continues to believe that it would be neither in US national security interests nor in the interest of regional stability for the US to cut or suspend aid to Egypt’s military rulers.
Administration officials also intimate that US-mandated consequences would be unlikely to compel Egypt’s rulers to take certain actions or to follow a different path anyway.
“We can’t force a solution here,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, speaking with reporters after Kerry’s statement. “We can play a productive role.”
Rather than emphasizing consequences, at least for now, the US will continue to press Egypt’s interim civilian government and military rulers to refrain from violence and instead turn wholeheartedly to fostering a political transition that includes free and inclusive elections and the delivery of a new constitution.