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Reports: Most Egypt military aid cut off

5:44 AM, Aug 20, 2013   |    comments
Egyptian army armoured personnel carriers (APC) are stationed outside the Aguza Military Hospital on August 19, 2013 in Cairo. Militants killed 25 Egypt police Monday in the deadliest attack of its kind in years, as the country struggles to deal with a crisis sparked by the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi. GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images
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CAIRO - U.S. military aid to Egypt has been temporarily cut off, reports said, as Egyptian authorities continued a swelling crackdown on the group that previously ran Egypt.

The U.S. has not stated publicly that a July 3 military takeover in Egypt was a coup, but the government decided privately to act as if it was, temporarily suspending most forms of military aid, the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy told The Daily Beast.

That suspension includes most direct military aid, the delivery of weapons to the Egyptian military and some forms of economic aid to Egypt, according to The Daily Beast.

Separately, a spokesman for Leahy, who is the head of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, told CNN that the U.S. is "reprogramming" funds while a review is underway, which effectively holds up some military aid to the country.

No decision, however, has been made to permanently halt the aid, which totals about $1.5 billion annually. The temporary steps allow the U.S. to either press ahead in delivering it or cutting it off after review, CNN said. The U.S., by law, cannot deliver aid to a nation where a coup has taken place.

Nearly 900 people were killed in four days of political violence last week after authorities crushed two protest camps where people had gathered to protest the overthrow of former President Mohammed Morsi. The nation's first freely elected leader was unseated July 3 by Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi after millions of Egyptians rose up against Morsi's rule.

Since then, the military-backed interim government has launched a massive crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled Morsi to power. The Brotherhood's Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie was arrested overnight, taken from his home in Cairo's Nasr City, local news media said. Badie and his deputy, Khairat Al-Shater, were already set to face trial on Sunday.

The government says it is fighting "terrorism" and has arrested countless Brotherhood leaders, members and other Islamists, including the brother of Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahri. It said weapons were found at the two major sit-ins that were destroyed and that Brotherhood leaders incited violence.

A seemingly wide portion of the population supports that view. But others are enraged, and the nation is starkly divided.

"We don't have human rights," said Ahmed Hassan, an Egyptian lawyer who is against the new government. "You can't see any democracy now."

On Monday, former President Hosni Mubarak's lawyer told Reuters that Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for three decades before he was ousted in 2011, could soon be released from prison. Reuters, citing judicial sources, reported Tuesday that a court would examine Mubarak's petition for release on Wednesday.

"Mubarak is just the icing on the cake and it shows what we're seeing is a restoration of the old order, and probably worse than that," said Shadi Hamid, director of research for the Brookings Doha Center.

But many Egyptians are supporting the interim government, the military and army chief Al-Sisi.

"Al-Sisi and the army are great," said Waleed Mohammed, a Cairo resident. "Morsi was a horrible president and he led the country down the drain."

Sarah Lynch, Special for USA TODAY

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