Two U.S. Navy ships patrolling in the Middle East moved closer to Egypt's Red Sea coast in recent days, the top Marine Corps general said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
The United States often sends Navy vessels close to countries in turmoil in case it needs to protect or evacuate U.S. citizens or take part in humanitarian assistance, and their presence does not necessarily mean the United States is preparing to carry out military action.
"Egypt is (in) a crisis right now," Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos was quoted as having told the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.
"When that happens, what we owe the senior leadership of our nation are some options," Amos said. He did not say what the options were.
U.S. Navy and Marine Corp officials said the two ships, part of a three-ship amphibious readiness group, had been in the region since May, patrolling the Red Sea, Horn of Africa, the Gulf and the Arabian Sea, and that there were no new orders to prepare for a possible conflict in Egypt.
The White House has been cautious about calling the Egyptian military’s ousting of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi a “coup,” noting that it will need to “review what has taken place.”
A decision to brand Morsi’s ouster a coup would, by law, require the Obama administration to halt aid to the Egyptian army.
On Saturday, President Barack Obama said the United States is “not aligned” with any political party or group in Egypt following Morsi’s ouster.
On Wednesday, officials said that the United States plans to go through with the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in the coming weeks, despite Morsi’s overthrow.
Hours later, however, it was reported that Obama has ordered a review of U.S. assistance to Egypt's government.