By Elise Labott
International diplomacy hit a dead end Wednesday when the interim Egyptian government broke off talks to defuse the political crisis.
Egypt declared efforts to broker an agreement between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military-backed government a failure, putting an end to an intense effort by the United States, the European Union and other countries to end the stalemate sparked by the military's ouster of President Mohammed Morsy.
"These efforts have not achieved the hoped for results," the Egyptian presidency said in a statement on the end of the mediation. The statement placed blame on the Muslim Brotherhood.
The president thanked diplomats for mediation efforts but didn't take kindly to warnings from key U.S. senators in the region. FULL POST
By Elise Labott
The United States is launching a full court press to help dig Egypt out of the crippling political crisis prompted by the military ouster of President Mohamed Morsy, with Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham and Deputy Secretary William Burns on the ground in Cairo.
They all share the same goal. Both Burns and the senators are trying to ease tensions between Morsy’s supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s military, and create the atmosphere for some sort of negotiation between the two sides.
McCain and Graham arrived at the behest of President Barack Obama to press Egypt’s military for a quick return to civilian rule.
Burns is joining EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the foreign ministers of Germany, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to meet with a number Egyptians.
By Lisa Desjardins
The Senate on Wednesday defeated a proposal to cut off U.S. aid to Egypt. The measure, pushed by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky in the wake of the military takeover in Egypt, only got the backing of 13 senators.
The measure would have shut off $1.5 billion in aid to Cairo.
The proposal from Paul was not new. A similar measure of his received just 10 votes last fall.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
The Pentagon is reconsidering whether to end "imminent danger pay" for troops in several regions of the Middle East and Persian Gulf in the wake of increasing violence there in recent weeks, according to a Defense Department official.
The Pentagon had been considering the move, which would save about $120 million each year, the official told CNN. He declined to be identified because there is no final decision on the matter.
In addition, the Pentagon quietly is considering whether to proceed with a planned September U.S. military exercise with Egypt. That exercise would send thousands of U.S. troops to Egypt with aircraft and land-based weapons. For now the exercise remains on the calendar, but a second Pentagon official said it's certain to be re-examined in light of the recent violence. FULL POST
By Barbara Starr
President Barack Obama has decided to delay the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in a sign of U.S. pressure for the military there to move quickly restore civilian rule following its ouster of President Mohamed Morsy.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Egypt’s military chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, on Wednesday to inform him of the decision.
Hagel and al-Sisi also discussed the general’s call on Wednesday for mass demonstrations in Egypt for support of the military.
The Obama administration has so far not called Morsy’s removal earlier this month a military coup, which could cut more than $1 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt if that characterization is made.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the latest in a series of stories and opinion pieces previewing the upcoming Aspen Security Forum. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event, which is taking place from July 17-20 in Aspen, Colorado. The forum will feature a session called "Unrest in the Arab World and its Implications for our Security"; Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and a fellow at the Brookings Institution, who is featured in this piece, will participate. Follow the event on Twitter under @aspeninstitute and @natlsecuritycnn #AspenSecurity.
By Elise Labott
A popular argument following the removal from power of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy posits that the non-U.S. response ends a long-held American position that it defends democracy.
The pretense, however, has already been on shaky ground during Phase Two of the Arab Spring.
Countries where the United States has supported regime change have morphed from relatively stable autocracies into hotbeds of instability, posing challenges for U.S. policy.
In Egypt, the United States has played the cards it was dealt, taking a pragmatic approach to the recent events..
No lover of Morsy or his Muslim Brotherhood ideology, the United States engaged his government because it was in power, having won the 2012 elections.
But after 22 million people signed a petition to remove him from power and took to the streets, Morsy was suddenly damaged goods.
By Barbara Starr
The Obama administration tentatively plans to deliver four F-16 aircraft to Egypt, but is reviewing all U.S. military aid arrangements, according to a Pentagon official.
The planes were scheduled to be shipped by the end of August, but the delivery could be made more complicated if there is no Egyptian military plan to transition to civilian rule and the United States were compelled to formally declare a military coup had taken place, the official said.
If that declaration were made, it most likely would result in aid being halted. The official declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information.
Until Thursday, all indications had been that the deliveries would go through as part of a $1.3 billion 2010 military aid package that called for 20 F-16s and Abrams tank parts to be sent to Egypt. A second Pentagon official had previously said the deliveries "were on track."
By Elise Labott
The Obama administration is deferring judgment about whether President Mohammed Morsy was ousted in a coup while the Egyptian political process moves forward.
"There's an elephant in the room here," White House Press Secretary James Carney told reporters on Tuesday. "It is in our national interest – the best interest of the United States, and the best interest, in our view of our goal in assisting the Egyptian people, in their transition to democracy to take the time necessary to evaluate the situation before making such a determination."
Another U.S. official was more blunt.
"A policy determination has been made the meantime to call it nothing," the official told CNN.
By Elise Labott
While America's top military officials continue in-depth discussions with their counterparts in Egypt, the Obama administration is looking how to map America's relations with the crucial Middle East ally.
Top officials huddled at the White House again on Monday to discuss the issue.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel once again talked with Gen. Abdel Fattah al Sisi, Egypt's defense minister.
It's at least the fourth time Hagel has spoken to Sisi in the past week, both before and after his military deposed Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsy, and put him under house arrest.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said the conversations "have been lengthy and very candid."
A defense official, who requested anonymity, says some of the calls "have lasted nearly two hours."
Meanwhile, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey has also had two calls with the chief of staff of Egypt's armed forces, Lt. Gen. Sedki Sobhi.
The importance of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship, which has been developing since the Carter-era Camp David Peace Accords, is evidenced by how carefully government officials are avoiding labeling the past week's developments a "military coup."
If Morsy's removal were to be called a coup, under U.S. law, more than $1 billion in military aid to Egypt would have to be slashed.
Israel is concerned that such a cut could jeopardize the peace treaty between the two countries
Israel and Egypt are the two biggest recipients of American military aid.
The determination of whether a coup took place is generally made by the State Department's Legal Advisor Office.
But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki described it as an interagency process on Monday.
Psaki also said that the fact tens of millions of Egyptians supported the move and did not consider this a coup would be factored into the deliberations.
Senior U.S. officials say the administration is examining three potential options – calling events in Egypt a coup and cutting off aid; calling it a coup and issuing a national security waiver; or not determining it a coup, recognizing that the military has taken steps to move the country toward a civilian transitional government and move toward elections.
White House spokesman Jay Carney suggested what happens next will be very important.
"Our relationship with Egypt is not limited to or defined solely by the assistance that we provide to Egypt. It is broader and deeper than that, and it is bound up in America's support for the aspirations of the Egyptian people for democracy, for a better economic and political future, and we support that," Carney said.
"So our decisions with regards to the events that have happened recently in Egypt will be - and how we label them and analyze them will be made with our policy objectives in mind, in accordance with the law and in accordance with any consultation with Congress," he said.
More than 40 people were killed Monday when Egyptian security forces clashed with supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood, the government said.
Witnesses said the military and police fired when protesters had taken a break from holding a vigil at the Republican Guard headquarters to say their morning prayers. Morsy was reportedly detained there after his arrest Wednesday.
The Health Ministry put the number of fatalities at 42 and said 322 others were wounded.
But the military said it was forced to fire when an "armed terrorist group" tried to raid the headquarters. An Interior Ministry statement said two security force members - a lieutenant and a recruit - were shot and killed.FULL STORY