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Egypt condemns US as ignorant over claim that military aid used to ‘crackdown on civilians’

Egypt condemns US as ignorant over claim that military aid used to ‘crackdown on civilians’

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the United States’ Department of State latest comments on military aid to Egypt as ‘ignorant’ and ‘lacking.’

In a strongly worded statement, the spokesperson of Egypt’s Foreign Ministry stated that the comments of US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf showed “total ignorance and failure to know of current events and facts in Egypt.”

The statement added that the Marie Harf’s statements were “unacceptable and unjustified.”

“Saying that Egypt used ammunition [military aid] against its own people indicates a total ignorance of the facts in Egypt; meanwhile, Israel is killing civilians every day in Palestine,” said a statement by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

In a response to a comment relating to US military aid to Israel, Marie Harf noted that there is a stark difference between assistance given to Egypt and that given to Israel:

QUESTION: But when you – when the Egyptians were cracking down the civilian population earlier this year or last year, you quietly suspended resupply to them.

MS. HARF: They are totally different situations, Elise.

QUESTION: Well, why is it totally different?

MS. HARF: Wholly different situations. Our relationship with Israel – our military-to-military relationship is a very strong one….where, as you know, we suspended a large amount of assistance after what happened politically in Egypt.

When asked whether the US would continue to provide additional military aid to Israel, Marie Harf added Israel is using the military aid “to fight a terrorist organization, which we believe is legitimate self-defence,” while Egypt was using the military aid against its own people. Israel’s military operations in Gaza has left more than 1,500, mostly civilians, dead since July 8.

QUESTION: You seemed to say that in – the context was different because in Egypt, the Egyptian military was going after its own civilians, or Egyptians —

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: — and that Israel is different because it’s defending itself from an outside threat.

MS. HARF: Egypt was also cracking down on peaceful protesters. Israel is going after a terrorist organization that’s firing rockets at it.

QUESTION: I understood. So can we just limit this to the civilian – innocent civilian casualties?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. There were some in Egypt, people who got caught up in the —

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: People who, as the government was cracking down on violence or whatever – that people got caught up. I don’t understand how it’s okay for a government to shoot and kill its own people – I mean, it’s not okay for a government to shoot and kill its own people, but it is okay —

MS. HARF: No.

QUESTION: — to kill innocent civilians —

MS. HARF: We condemn all civilian casualties. No. All I’m saying is they’re just not comparable situations, and we have called on the Israelis to take more steps to protect civilians in this conflict.

QUESTION: Are they not comparable in terms of your arms transfer regulations, or are they not comparable at all?

MS. HARF: The situations are just actually not comparable at all.

QUESTION: Okay. So —

MS. HARF: Some of the same principles may apply at times in both, but the situations are just not comparable.

In response, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry asked the US State Department to clarify “when and where” Egypt used military aid against its own people, particularly F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters.

“They lack the simplest measure of objectivity and credibility…Egypt needs F-16s and Apaches to counter terrorism that has claimed the lives of several policemen and army personnel,” added the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, stating that such military aid had never been used against the civilian population, noting ‘ignorance’ in Marie Harf’s comments.

The diplomatic spat between the two countries comes less than a week after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced that he would not be attending US President Obama’s US-Africa summit in Washington DC, but that he would be sending Egypt’s Prime Minister in his place.

Ties between the Egyptians and the Americans have been strained since the ouster of deposed President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 which was followed by a suspension of some US military aid to Egypt.

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