Badr Abdelatty, a spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was trying to be delicate when he acknowledged Tuesday, “There is a sort of resentment among different segments of Egyptian society against the United States at the moment.”
“We here are trying to explain to the Egyptian media that the American position is evolving and that at the end of the day, the U.S. will side with the will of the Egyptian people,” he said. “This is very important. They understand now” that the U.S. government “is avoiding the use of the word ‘coup.’ ”
The U.S. government provides $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt annually, most of it to the country’s military, but U.S. law prohibits the delivery of aid to any country in which a coup has taken place.
When asked how long it would take to determine whether Egypt's military had carried out a coup when it forced Morsi from power, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday, “We do not believe it is in our interest to make a precipitous decision or determination now.”
“This is an incredibly complex and difficult situation,” said Carney, noting that millions of Egyptians had legitimate grievances with Morsi. “There are significant consequences that go along with this determination, and it is a highly charged issue for millions of Egyptians who have differing views about what happened.”
One man at a sit-in by Morsi supporters said Tuesday that the United States was so unpopular right now that Egyptians would fight against whomever the Obama administration sided with.
“The army is trying to convince people that the United States is supporting Morsi, so that they’d revolt against him,” said Eid Ismail, 31, a lecturer at al-Azhar University.
In the background, Morsi supporters chanted slogans against Armed Forces Commander Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the ouster: “Sisi is America’s agent!” and “America is dictating Sisi!”
“You’re trying to walk the invisible line of self-interest,” said Gehad El-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood. “But you can’t choose both. Now you have people who hate the United States over here and you have people who hate the United States over there.”
Sharaf al-Hourani, Amro Hassan and Abigail Hauslohner in Cairo and Ernesto Londono and Karen DeYoung in Washington contributed to this report.