Obama Meets With Security Team on Egypt

Obama Meets With Security Team on Egypt

By Alexis Simendinger - August 20, 2013

President Obama convened a White House meeting Tuesday afternoon with his national security advisers to discuss the violence in Egypt and the status of U.S. assistance to that turmoil-filled nation, spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed.

No “major announcement” of policy decisions is expected following the meeting, which was scheduled at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, Earnest said.

The White House acknowledgement came after an Associated Press report about the session -- which was not included on the president’s daily schedule -- crossed the wires as journalists were pressing the deputy press secretary to explain whether pending U.S. assistance to Egypt was “stopped,” “on pause,” or unaffected as the administration considers its next moves.

The administration is weighing whether to alter the amount or flow of military and other assistance to Egypt as a way to press for renewed democratic governance in the wake of the July 3 military overthrow and detention of President Mohamed Morsi.

To date, Obama’s escalating admonitions to the Egyptian military, an announced halt in the sale of F-16 fighter planes to Egypt, and the cancellation of joint military exercises scheduled in September have had no observable effect.

The White House sought Tuesday to counter news reports that the administration unofficially “suspended” U.S. aid to Egypt. Earnest said no decision had been reached.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Relations, issued a statement Monday through spokesman David Carle that the administration had conveyed to him “that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law.”

The State Department said Monday through its spokeswoman that approximately $585 million of $1.23 billion in U.S. military assistance remained “unobligated” in this fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30.

“That review that the president ordered in early July has not concluded, and reports to the contrary that suggest that assistance to Egypt has been cut off are not accurate,” Earnest said. “That aid and assistance is ongoing.”

Earnest declined to say if Obama had spoken with lawmakers or other heads of state about the worsening situation in Egypt since returning from his vacation Sunday night. “Of course it’s possible,” he told reporters. 

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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