President Barack Obama announced the cancellation of a biannual joint U.S.-Egypt military exercise, in a rebuke to Egypt’s interim government.
Obama took a break from a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday announce the cancellation of the “Bright Star” exercises, a biennial series that began in 1980.
He also condemned the ongoing bloodshed and violence in Egypt, saying the United States “strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt’s interim government and security forces” over the past few days.
Hundreds of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi have been killed in recent days.
“We deplore violence against civilians,” he said in a statement from his rented home in Chilmark, Mass. He added that the people of Egypt “deserve better.”
Obama has been roundly criticised for his administration’s lack of action on Egypt recently. Both The Washington Post and The New York Times ran scathing editorials Thursday demanding that the U.S. suspend $US1.3 billion in aid to Egypt after a military crackdown, which had led to the deaths of more than 550 people and is climbing.
Though Obama announced the cancellation of next month’s joint military exercise, the bigger question — if anything will change with the $US1.3 billion of military aid to Egypt — was left unaddressed. Obama said he has instructed his national security team to see what additional steps the U.S. can take going forward.
At the end of his statement, Obama said, pointedly, that the U.S. “cannot determine the future of Egypt.” That, he said, would be up to the Egyptian people to decide.
“Democratic transitions aren’t measured in months or even years,” Obama said, “but sometimes in generations.”
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