Benghazi aftershocks affecting US policy in Egypt

Benghazi aftershocks affecting US policy in Egypt
# 19 August 2013 23:48 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The specter of Benghazi is affecting U.S. policy in coup-wracked Egypt. Cited as a reason for closing some 20 American embassies and consulates this month in the face of an al-Qaida threat, U.S. officials said last year's deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic installation in Libya also is playing heavily into the Obama administration's deliberations on how to respond to the growing unrest across the Arab world's most populous country, APA reports quoting Associated Press.

The fear in Washington: That any significant cut in military aid could prompt Egypt's ruling generals to scale back their protection of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and other diplomatic properties.

And officials said the administration is concerned about taking any step that endangers American diplomatic personnel on the ground.

To respond to the escalating death toll and security crackdown, the administration is considering suspending about $250 million in annual U.S. economic aid for Egypt, officials said. Congressional notification could arrive in the next week, said the officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

However, officials said Obama and his national security team are still reluctant to issue any similar, blanket edict on the $1.3 billion in yearly military assistance that has been more or less guaranteed since Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel more than three decades ago. The U.S. could opt for more piecemeal moves like the decision to put off the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets and biennial, U.S.-Egyptian military exercises planned for next month, they said.

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