The U.S. is delaying the planned delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt because of the “fluid situation” in that country after the military’s ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.
“Given the overall situation in Egypt right now, we thought it prudent to make this decision,” Defense Department spokesman George Little told reporters at the Pentagon.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by telephone on Wednesday with Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sissi to notify him of the delay and to discuss al-Sissi’s call for a mass rally in support of the military, Little said.
The Obama administration is reviewing whether Morsi’s ouster requires suspending U.S. aid. A U.S. law requires denying assistance to a country “whose duly elected head of government is deposed by a military coup d’etat.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday that the delayed F-16 delivery represents a “very specific decision made at this specific time about this specific case” and said it doesn’t reflect any broader determination about further U.S. assistance.
“Given the current situation in Egypt, we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward with the delivery of F-16s at this time,” she said, according to Bloomberg.
The White House has been cautious about calling the Egyptian military’s ouster of Morsi a “coup,” noting that it will need to “review what has taken place.”
Two weeks ago, Obama ordered a review of U.S. assistance to Egypt's government.