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Obey the Law: U.S. Must Cut Aid to Egypt After Military Coup
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 9 July 2013 - 7:30pm
Last week, there was a military coup in Egypt that removed the democratically elected president from office. Yesterday, the Egyptian military killed more than 50 people who were protesting the coup. 
No matter what one thinks of President Morsi, a coup is a coup. By longstanding U.S. law, U.S. aid to Egypt—which happens to be mostly military aid—must be suspended until a democratically elected government takes office. If the law isn’t followed in this case, it will send a signal to U.S.-supported militaries around the world that they can overthrow elected governments without jeopardizing U.S. military aid.
Demand that President Obama follow the law, and urge your Representative and Senators to insist that he do so.
The law says: 
Sec. 7008. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d'etat or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d'etat or decree in which the military plays a decisive role: Provided, That assistance may be resumed to such government if the President determines and certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office: Provided further, That the provisions of this section shall not apply to assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes: Provided further, That funds made available pursuant to the previous provisos shall be subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.
There is no Presidential waiver or national security waiver for this law. If the President wants to continue U.S. aid to Egypt in spite of the coup, he must obtain a specific Congressional waiver for this purpose.  Senators Patrick Leahy, Carl Levin, and John McCain have called for suspending U.S. aid, as the law requires. 
It makes no difference to the law if we like a democratically elected government overthrown by a coup or we don’t; a coup is a coup. It makes no difference if supporters of the coup say it’s not a coup – supporters of coups in Honduras, Venezuela, Chile and Iran also claimed that those coups weren’t coups.
In July 2009, less than a month after the coup in Honduras, U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens sent a cable to Washington, explaining why the case that the ouster of the Zelaya government in Honduras was a coup was “open and shut.”  The only question that mattered for Ambassador Llorens’ conclusion was whether the Honduran military’s ouster of President Zelaya was constitutional and legal, which it clearly wasn’t. If the coup in Honduras was a coup, then the coup in Egypt was a coup.
If the Obama Administration is allowed to get away with playing word games to avoid following the law in this case, it will set a dangerous precedent, making coups in other countries more likely.
Urge President Obama to follow the law, and urge your Representative and Senators to demand that he do so.
Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,
Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy
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1. “Army Kills 51, Deepening Crisis in Egypt,” David D. Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim, New York Times, July 8, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/09/world/middleeast/egypt.html
2. “Provisions Relevant To The Situation In Egypt In The FY12 State Department And Foreign Operations Appropriations Law,” webpage of Senator Patrick Leahy, July 3, 2013, http://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/provisions-relevant-to-the-situation-i...
3. “U.S. has spotty record on law requiring it to cut aid after coups,” Max Fisher, Washington Post, July 5, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/07/05/u-s-has-spo...
4. “Carl Levin wants to suspend aid to Egypt,” Burgess Everett, Politico, July 8, 2013, http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/carl-levin-egypt-aid-93854.html
5. “Open and Shut: The Case of the Honduran Coup,” Ambassador Hugo Llorens, July 24, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/11/28/world/20101128-cables-view...