As the death toll in Egypt rises to 525, according to the health ministry, and Christians face more danger than ever, Obama has canceled a military exercise scheduled for next month while saying that the U.S. “strongly condemns” the violence currently plaguing Egypt.
Perhaps most troubling of all is that there are no signs of the violence ending in the near future with the Muslim Brotherhood pledging to march in Cairo and bring down the interim government.
One of the most notable aspects of Obama’s reaction is that he avoided actually describing the situation in Egypt as “a coup.”
If such language was used, it would require the U.S. to cut the $1.3-1.5 billion in yearly aid to Egypt, as USA Today notes.
Gehad El-Haddad, spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, has been especially vocal as of late.
“We will rise and rise again until we push the military back into the barracks and restore democracy,” El-Haddad said via Twitter.
El-Haddad also claimed that the Minister of Health “has privately disclosed that he is under extreme pressure” to withhold the real numbers of injured and dead Egyptians.
“Almost 8 times of what they announced,” El-Haddad claimed.
The Egyptian Health Ministry spokesman Mohamed Fathallah told the official Al Ahram website on Thursday that 525 people have been killed in clashes after the resignation of Mohamed ElBaradei and some 3,717 others have been injured, according to The New York Times.
The largest concentration of killings was reported in the largest of the two protest camps in the Nasr City suburb, with 202 killed.
The smaller Nahda Square protest camp located near Cairo University had 87 killed and 29 others were killed in the Helwan area located on the outskirts of Cairo. An additional 207 people were reported killed elsewhere around Egypt.
“We will not bow down, we will not cower,” he said, according to NBC News, adding that the Egyptian security forces have shown “unbelievable brutality.”
“There remained a chance for reconciliation and an opportunity to pursue a democratic path,” Obama said today, referring to the time following the overthrow of Morsi on July 3. “Instead, we’ve seen a more dangerous path taken.”
Yet at this point, Obama’s statements are nothing but rhetoric. Since there is no suspension of military aid, the United States remains a significant supporter of the government in Egypt.
The Washington Post reports that the U.S. aid to Egypt “represents what officials say is the only financial and diplomatic leverage the administration can bring to bear in Egypt.”
Obama stated that he has instructed his national security team to investigate what further steps they might take in response to the situation in Egypt, adding that they “appreciate the complexity of the situation.”
What that actually means for the people of Egypt remains unclear.
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