But political elites in Cairo, where anti-American sentiments and broader xenophobia have surged since the coup, dismissed the pending curtailment of aid as irrelevant.
“We do not need this aid,” Mahmoud Afifi, a member of the pro-coup June 30th Front, told the semiofficial Youm7 newspaper. “What we do need is more true national independence.”
Some members of Congress expressed alarm Wednesday that they had not been notified in advance of the changes to U.S. aid.
“I am disappointed that the Administration is planning to partially suspend military aid to Egypt,” Rep. Eliot L. Engel (N.Y.), the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.
The Egyptian military had handled the post-coup developments “clumsily” but had “begun a democratic transition,” Engel said. Cutting aid would undermine that process and the two countries’ relationship, he said.
But there were also voices of support. The London-based human rights group Amnesty International sent a letter to Obama on Wednesday saying that the “U.S. government needs to stop providing arms or allowing back door sales of weapons or equipment that Egypt’s security forces will likely use to violate human rights.”
Bedouin residents of Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula say the military has used Apache helicopters in recent weeks to strike homes and smuggling tunnels in a sweeping, and at times indiscriminate, crackdown in the area along the border with Israel and the Gaza Strip. Militancy has been on the rise in that part of the Sinai.
The Egyptian military has used its F-16s in frequent air shows since the coup, flying low in formation over the capital, or sometimes tracing hearts and patterns in the colors of the national flag in an effort to garner public support. Protesters who support Morsi’s reinstatement have called the shows provocative.
Since the coup, Egypt’s military-backed government has waged a brutal crackdown against the Brotherhood in a wave of violent clashes and arrests that has decimated the 85-year-old Islamist organization, leaving more than a thousand people dead and thousands more behind bars.
That crackdown continued Wednesday, as the government took steps to implement an earlier court ruling that formally dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood as a legal entity.
The Brotherhood was banned for decades under successive authoritarian regimes but formed a political party after the 2011 uprising that ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak. This year, before Morsi’s overthrow, the Brotherhood applied for nongovernmental-
organization status for the larger group.
Abdelatty, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the government action Wednesday marked the execution of a court ruling last month that rendered the Brotherhood and “all organizations related to it, in terms of organization and finance,” illegal.
The government said Wednesday that it would also seize the group’s assets.
Londoño reported from Washington. Karen DeYoung in Washington and Lara El Gibaly in Cairo contributed to this report.