The US government has delayed the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt's air force, in an implicit criticism of the way the Egyptian military has behaved since forcing ex-president Mohamed Morsi from power.
"Given the current situation in , we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s," a spokesman for the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
The Pentagon's decision came hours after a controversial speech from the head of Egypt's armed forces, General Abdel-Fatah Sisi. Speaking at a military graduation ceremony, Sisi called for millions to take to Egypt's streets in support of the army – a call many interpreted as the precursor for a brutal crackdown on pro-Morsi supporters.
The Pentagon's move also follows the decision by the UK government on 19 July to , following reports of .
Morsi was ousted from office on 3 July by Egypt's army, following days of millions-strong protests against his regime. The US had previously signalled its tacit support for the military's actions by , and by avoiding terming Morsi's overthrow as a coup.
Mindful of the criticism the US ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, had received for trying to persuade opposition leaders to call off the protests, the Americans seemed keen not to be seen to be intervening further in Egyptian politics.
"Only Egyptians can determine their future," the deputy secretary of state, Williams Burns, said during a trip to Egypt on 15 July. "I did not come with American solutions. Nor did I come to lecture anyone. We will not try to impose our model on Egypt."
Although the F-16s have been delayed, the US will still donate equipment worth $1.3bn to Egypt, and a joint US-Egypt military exercise will still go ahead.
But the move will do little to quell heightened anti-US sentiment from all factions in Egypt. Abusive messages directed at both Patterson and the US president, Barack Obama, are displayed on several streets in downtown Cairo because of the way the US was seen to side with Morsi before his overthrow. Morsi supporters have also now turned on the US – some marching on its embassy earlier this week – because of the way American officials refused to outright condemn Morsi's overthrow.