The White House stresses it is not cutting all of its military aid to Egypt, following reports that ongoing violence there between protesters and government forces has prompted a reduction in the billions it sends.
"The reports that we are halting all military assistance to Egypt are false," said National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on Tuesday night. "We will announce the future of our assistance relationship with Egypt in the coming days, but as the president made clear at the [U.N. General Assembly in September], that assistance relationship will continue."
Egypt has been a staunch ally of the U.S. in recent decades and receives roughly $1.5 billion in military aid each year. That relationship has slowly degraded following July protests, prompting Egyptian government officials to force democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi from office.
The Obama administration does not consider that incident a coup d'etat. It launched a review in August to study the U.S.-Egyptian relationship and how to get the embattled country back onto a democratic footing.
Multiple news outlets reported late Tuesday that the administration does plan to suspend a substantial portion of its military aid.
The White House will announce reduction in aid in the coming days, several administration officials told The New York Times. This will include holding up the delivery of certain hardware sales, such as tanks, helicopters and fighter jets.
The cuts will not affect counterterrorism operations or border security for the Sinai Peninsula region and around Gaza, the Times reports. Neither Congress nor Egyptian officials have been notified of the decision, according to The Washington Post.
"Business can't continue as usual," State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said Tuesday, adding that U.S. investments in Egypt are not limited to military operations. "Some of our assistance doesn't go to the government," she said. "It goes to NGOs or it goes to fund important programs that directly help the people of Egypt."
The U.S. announced in late July that it would not go forward with the sale of four F-16 Falcon fighter jets to Egypt. In August, officials said a biannual joint military exercise would be canceled. This followed widespread unrest in Egypt over perceived power grabs by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic hard-line organization and Morsi's political party.
Morsi was elected in 2012, following the 2011 Arab Spring protests that prompted the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the authoritarian leader who had ruled Egypt since 1981.
Violence in Egypt has spiked in recent days following reports of deadly clashes between state forces and protesters, who have attacked government facilities.
Obama spoke before the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 24 about the importance of ensuring democratic movements such as the Arab Spring in 2011 do not founder in subsequent violence.
The U.S. ongoing relationship with the tumultuous Egypt reflects "a larger point," he said.
"The United States will at times work with governments that do not meet, at least in our view, the highest international expectations, but who work with us on our core interests," Obama said. "Nevertheless, we will not stop asserting principles that are consistent with our ideals, whether that means opposing the use of violence as a means of suppressing dissent, or supporting the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."