The White House refused Monday to call the
military takeover in Egypt a coup, even as critics in Congress insist
the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi was a coup and want to cut off
US aid to the Middle East country.
Asked over and over by reporters whether President Barack Obama was considering the "coup" designation, White House spokesman Jay Carney repeatedly answered that time was needed to review the situation and consult with Congress.
"I'll be blunt - this is an incredibly complex and difficult situation," Carney said.
While Obama had expressed "deep concern" about the removal of Morsi and suspension of the constitution, Carney said it was important to "acknowledge that tens of millions of Egyptians have legitimate grievances ... and they do not believe that this was a coup."
US Senators John McCain and Patrick Leahy insisted that Morsi's overthrow was a coup that should trigger a cutoff in aid, as mandated by US law for countries where a democratically elected government is ousted.
Egypt is one of the largest recipients of US aid, getting 1.5 billion dollars annually in military and economic assistance.
"Reluctantly, I believe that we have to suspend aid until such time as there is a new constitution and a free and fair election," McCain told CBS News on Sunday.
Like the White House, McCain did not express support for the reinstatement of Morsi, a leader of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood whose democratic election in 2012 triggered a shift to religiously oriented governance.
"Morsi was a terrible president," McCain said.
McCain said the fact that the military has twice ousted an Egyptian leader in the last two years was a "strong indicator of the lack of American leadership and influence."
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