WASHINGTON, August 15 (By Maria Young for RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama on Thursday scrapped a military exercise the United States was due to hold next month with Egypt and “strongly condemned” the violent crackdown by security forces on protesters in the Middle Eastern country, in which hundreds were killed and thousands injured.
“The cycle of violence and escalation needs to stop,” Obama told reporters in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, where the first family is vacationing.
“This morning we notified the Egyptian government that we are canceling our biannual joint military exercise, which was scheduled for next month,” he said.
The United States and Egypt have been holding the “Bright Star” military exercise together since 1980, an effort to strengthen military ties between the two countries.
“Going forward, I've asked my national security team to assess the implications” of actions by the interim government which took over when Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted last month, and consider “further steps that we may take as necessary with respect to the US-Egyptian relationship,” Obama added.
“The Egyptian people deserve better than we’ve seen in the last few days,” Obama said.
The president’s remarks came hours after Egyptian security forces on Wednesday violently broke up protests and sit-ins by supporters of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party, which is calling for his return. Western media reports have said more than 500 people were killed in the crackdown and around 3,700 injured.
Obama condemned the violent measures taken by Egypt's interim government and security forces against the protesters, saying the relationship between the United States and Egypt was in jeopardy “when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back.”