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Friday, October 21, 2016

Egypt Criticizes U.S. Decision To Halt Arms Delivery

Cairo (AFP) – Egypt criticized Thursday as “flawed” a U.S. decision to suspend deliveries of major military hardware and cash assistance, saying it would not bow to American pressure.

On Wednesday, Washington stopped shipments of some large-scale military systems as well as halting $260 million in cash aid to Egyptian military leaders, who ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July.

Washington’s move signals deep concern over the mounting bloodshed and lack of democratic transition in Egypt.

“It is a flawed decision in terms of content and timing and raises serious questions over the United States’ readiness to provide strategic support to Egypt’s security programs,” the foreign ministry said.

The decision comes at a time “of dangerous terrorism-related challenges” faced by Egypt, regardless of whether the measures are temporary or not.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation and traditionally a key U.S. regional ally, said it would not bow to U.S. pressure.

Egypt “will continue to take decisions regarding its domestic affairs with full independence and without foreign pressure,” the ministry statement said.

The decision to freeze major arms contracts was outlined in a 40-minute telephone call between U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Egyptian military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Egypt has come under international fire for its crackdown on supporters of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Hundreds have been killed and at least 2,000 supporters of Morsi and his Islamist movement have been detained since his overthrow on July 3.

Morsi, who is being held at an unknown location, is due to go on trial on November 4, accused of inciting the death of protesters while he was president.

Washington has repeatedly called for his release.

Morsi’s trial is likely to inflame further protests by his Islamist backers, who clashed with security forces on Sunday in unrest that left 57 people dead.

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