WASHINGTON, August 14 (RIA Novosti) – The United States on Wednesday strongly condemned the violent crackdown by Egypt’s military-backed government on supporters of the country’s ousted Islamist president and said it opposed the reinstitution of martial law in the country.
“The United States strongly condemns the use of violence against protesters in Egypt,” the White House said in a statement, adding: “We also strongly oppose a return to a state of emergency law and call on the government to respect basic human rights such as freedom of peaceful assembly.”
The strongly-worded White House statement came after Egyptian security forces backed by armored vehicles and helicopters moved to clear street camps in Cairo occupied by supporters of detained elected President Mohamed Morsi, triggering violent clashes that reportedly left hundreds dead and injured.
In an unannounced appearance at the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry echoed the White House statement of condemnation and called on all parties in Egypt to “take a step back” to avoid further loss of life.
“This is a pivotal moment for all Egyptians,” Kerry told reporters at the daily media briefing. “The promise of the 2011 revolution has simply never been fully realized. And the final outcome of that revolution is not yet decided. It will be shaped in the hours ahead, in the days ahead.”
“The world is closely watching Egypt and is deeply concerned about the events that we have witnessed today,” he added.
The United States has come under scathing criticism in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East for refusing to describe the military arrest last month of Morsi, the country’s democratically-elected president as a “coup” – wording that would trigger a suspension of US military aid to Egypt.
That issue is delicate as Egypt is one of only two Arab states to have recognized and established ties with Israel, the closest US ally in the region. US-Israeli-Egyptian strategic cooperation – including US military aid to both countries – was for decades central to the US security equation in the region.
Kerry in particular was criticized by many in Egypt when he appeared to endorse Morsi’s ouster and the military takeover of the country, telling an interviewer in Pakistan: “In effect, they were restoring democracy.”
Kerry has since walked those comments back and the White House statement issued on Wednesday made clear Washington’s aversion to the direction events in Egypt were taking.
“Violence will only make it more difficult to move Egypt forward on a path to lasting stability and democracy, and runs directly counter to the pledges by the interim government to pursue reconciliation,” the White House said.