WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — The U.S. is delaying its delivery of four new F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in light of the military overthrow of Mohammed Morsi as president, but it has not decided whether to suspend military aid more broadly, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said President Barack Obama made the decision to hold up the F-16 delivery.
The indefinite delay was the first direct action the U.S. has taken since the Egyptian military ousted Morsi and installed a new civilian government. Under U.S. law, military aid to a country that underwent a coup d’etat must be suspended. But the Obama administration says it is still trying to determine if what happened three weeks ago in Egypt was in fact a coup.
According to Little, the delay applies only to the F-16 fighter jets — the broader question of whether to suspend $1.3 billion in annual military assistance in response to the Egyptian military’s removal of the country’s Islamist president three weeks ago has not been settled.
The administration has, however, decided to proceed with an annual U.S.-Egyptian military exercise, called Bright Star.
“Just given the overall situation in Egypt right now we thought it prudent to make this decision,” Little said.
The administration came under heavy fire in the past for continuing to supply F-16 jets to a highly unstable and Islamist-run Egypt during Morsi’s rule. Back in February, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went to Egypt just days after the United States delivered four fresh jets.
Twenty in total are scheduled to be delivered in 2013, and eight have already been delivered. According to the United States Embassy website, the U.S. had delivered 224 F-16 aircraft to Egypt as of February 2013.
Some, like Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, are still not pleased at our level of support.
“By the president’s refusal to call the situation in Egypt a ‘coup’ and continuing the flow of foreign assistance to Egypt, he is forthrightly saying ‘I am ignoring the rule of law,'” Paul said in a statement.