Despite President Obama's comments earlier this week, there has not been a shift in America's Egypt policy and the country is still a Major Non-NATO Ally, as it has been designated since 1989, the White House and State Department say. "I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," the president told a Telemundo interviewer Wednesday, puzzling many. "I think folks are reading way too much into this," a White House spokesman tells Foreign Policy. "'Ally' is a legal term of art. We don't have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt like we do with our NATO allies. But as the president has said, Egypt is a longstanding and close partner of the United States."
Analysts say that the president's surprising choice of words probably reflects the administration's feeling that the Egyptian government's response to the attack has been half-hearted. When a State Department spokeswoman who confirmed that Egypt is still a US ally was asked if the president misspoke, she said, "I am not going to parse the president's words." Click to read about one columnist's criticism of Obama's words. (Read more Egypt stories.)