US Secretly Halts Egypt Aid; Saudis Publicly Fill Void

US ally steps up as major donor of $12B package

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 20, 2013 7:29 AM CDT | Updated Aug 20, 2013 7:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – Amid reports that the White House is quietly halting US military aid to Egypt—at least temporarily—Saudi Arabia is taking the bold step of announcing it will fill any financial void. Gulf countries are planning a $12 billion package for Egypt, and Saudi Arabia is the biggest donor, the Washington Post reports, noting that US aid amounts to just $1.5 billion annually. "Concerning those who announced stopping their assistance to Egypt or threatening to stop them, the Arab and Islamic nation is rich with its people and capabilities and will provide a helping hand to Egypt," Saudi Arabian finance minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said.

Though the White House tells the Post no decision has been made on Egypt aid, US officials, including Sen. Patrick Leahy, tell the Daily Beast that much of it is being halted for now. In other words, the US is treating the situation as a coup, even though it hasn't officially labeled it as such, the Beast notes. "By not announcing the decision, it gives the administration the flexibility to reverse it," says an administration official. Meanwhile, the Saudi move underscores weakening US power in the region, notes the New York Times; Washington's financial assistance was its main source of influence. Saudi Arabia's announcement could anger more than just its ally Washington: The country "is putting itself in direct confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood, which has broad regional sympathy," notes an expert—particularly in Qatar and Turkey.

Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi march in the Maadi district Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013.
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi march in the Maadi district Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013.   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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