The Washington Post

White House clarifies after Obama says Egypt not ‘ally’

In an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo Wednesday night, President Obama said Egypt's relationship with the U.S. is complicated: ""I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy." 

In fact, Egypt was declared a “Major Non-NATO ally" in 1989. So White House staff is doing a little clarifying today. 

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told Foreign Policy magazine Thursday that Obama was not signaling any kind of policy change. 

"‘Ally' is a legal term of art," he said. "We don't have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt like we do with our NATO allies. But as the president has said, Egypt is longstanding and close partner of the United States, and we have built on that foundation by supporting Egypt's transition to democracy and working with the new government."

 White House Press Secretary Jay Carney gave reporters a similar comment. "The president, in diplomatic and legal terms, was speaking correctly," he said. "We do not have an alliance treaty with Egypt. Ally is a legal term of art. As I said, we do not have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt, like we do, for example, with our NATO allies."

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that Egypt is still considered a major non-NATO ally. 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Philip Rucker · September 13, 2012

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.