Kerry says Egypt may have avoided civil war

Wednesday 17 July 2013 23.57
John Kerry repeated the US position that it has not yet made any decision on Egyptian aid
John Kerry repeated the US position that it has not yet made any decision on Egyptian aid

Egypt may have avoided a civil war this month, US Secretary of State John Kerry said today.

He said this was one factor to weigh as the US decides whether to cut off most US aid to the Arab nation.

The armed forces deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi on 3 July after huge street protests against his rule.

It cleared the way for this week's instalment of a new interim cabinet charged with restoring civilian government and reviving the economy.

Thousands of Mr Mursi's supporters demonstrated outside the prime minister's office and marched through Cairo today to denounce the new military-backed administration and show that they had no intention of bowing to army dictates.

Under US law, if the United States were to decide that Mr Mursi was ousted in a military coup, or a coup in which the military played a decisive role, it would have to cut off most of the roughly $1.5bn in annual US aid to Egypt.

Mr Kerry repeated the US position that it has not yet made any decision, saying it would take its time, consult its lawyers and get all the facts.

"This is obviously an extremely complex and difficult situation," Mr Kerry told reporters in Amman, adding that he would not "rush to judgement".

"I will say this: That what complicates it, obviously, is that you had an extraordinary situation in Egypt of life and death, of the potential of civil war and enormous violence, and you now have a constitutional process proceeding forward very rapidly," he added.

"So we have to measure all of those facts against the law, and that's exactly what we will do."

The crisis in Egypt, which straddles the vital Suez Canal, has alarmed allies in the west.

The US would be forced to cut off aid to Cairo, including the $1.3bn that goes to the military, if it determined Mr Mursi had been removed by a coup.

His comments underscored grave US concerns about the Arab world's most populous state and suggested that President Barack Obama was in no hurry to pull the plug on the aid program.

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