As Egypt descends into chaos, President Obama is facing increasing criticism that an “incoherent” policy toward the country — much like U.S. policy toward Syria — is putting U.S. money and influence on the line without a clear end-game.
The Obama administration claims to be staying neutral in the violent confrontation between the military-backed government and Muslim Brotherhood supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. More than 600 people have been killed so far across the country.
“America cannot determine the future of Egypt,” Obama said Thursday, in brief remarks from Martha’s Vineyard, where he’s vacationing, as he appealed for calm and condemned the violence.
Yet the administration is sending mixed signals. While the president directly spoke out against the military-backed government on Thursday — and canceled upcoming joint military exercises — the U.S. has refused to label Morsi’s ouster a coup. That means, under U.S. law, the administration can continue to send $1.5 billion in annual aid to the Egyptian government.
The mixed signals raise concern that the U.S. is simply breeding distrust on both sides.