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Rising death tolls in Egypt putting pressure on Obama to suspend military aid

by AirTalk®

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Egyptians carry the coffin of one of the four policemen, killed during clashes with Muslim Brotherhood supporters earlier in the week, during their funeral in Cairo on August 15, 2013. Getty Images

Violent clashes in Egypt have raised the death toll to over 500 as supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi grow angrier and call for more protest marches.  The aggressive tactics of the Egyptian military have drawn criticism from around the world, and President Obama has been pressured to reduce the $1.3 billion dollars of aid that the US gives the Egyptian military.

In a press conference on Thursday morning, the president announced that US-Egyptian relations are being tested in light of the Egyptian military’s role in the most recent clashes, and he announced the cancellation of US-Egypt joint military exercises scheduled for next month. However, Obama did not suggest that the US would cancel its foreign aid.

With other wealthy gulf states not trumping US aid to Egypt by billions, what significance does US military aid serve in the embattled country? Does the Egyptian military legitimately need the $1.3 billion dollars?  Why else might the US benefit from continuing aid?  Is their political leverage to be used?  At what point does the president draw the line?  What else can the administration due to influence the governance of Egypt?

Sharif Kouddous, freelance journalist based in Cairo

Khairi Abaza, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Mark LeVine, professor of middle east history at UC Irvine; he just returned from Cairo this week.

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