President Obama on Thursday personally condemned the current violence in Egypt, where at least 500 people were killed and thousands others injured yesterday after government raids of peaceful pro-Morsi protests sparked widespread violence. "The cycle of violence and escalation needs to stop," Obama said from Martha's Vineyard, where he is on vacation. "The Egyptian people deserve better than what we've seen over the last several days."
The words of condemnation were partly backed up by Obama's announcement that he is canceling a joint biennial military exercise (known as Operation Bright Star) with Egypt that had been set to take place next month in the Sinai region. That decision follows last month's move to halt a planned delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Egypt. Still, it's up for debate just how much of a signal the Bright Star decision sends to Egypt's current leaders—particularly given the still-climbing death toll on Cairo's streets, and the fact that the United States is giving $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt’s interim government.
The joint exercise was also canceled two years ago in 2011, during the political turmoil that followed the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, and last occurred in 2009, according to Reuters. "While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets," Obama said, promising that he was prepared to take further steps if the bloodshed continues.
This pos has been updated.
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