President Obama announced on Thursday that he was cancelling a joint-military exercise with the Egyptian army scheduled for next month in light of the last two days of bloodshed that’s left over 600 dead and thousands more injured.
P.J. Crowley, a former state department spokesman, said on NewsNation Thursday that Obama’s message would be heard “loud and clear” by Egyptian forces. How they choose to respond, however, remains to be seen.
The president did not go so far in his condemnation of Egypt as to suspend aid, which, as Time magazine’s Michael Crowley noted, constitutes the United States’ biggest–if not only–bargaining chip over the region.
“There’s really only so much we can do,” said Crowley on NewsNation Thursday. “But to the extent that we have leverage, it largely hinges on the fact that we send the country about $1.5 billion a year in aid, and $1.3 billion of that goes to the military.”
Since the Egyptian military is in power, he said, the continued flow of money keeps open those vital pathways of communication.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that they listen to us or they do what we say,” said Crowley. “But it’s kind of better than the alternative, which is nothing.”