“This morning we notified the Egyptian government that we are canceling our biannual joint military exercise, which was scheduled for next month,” said US President Barack Obama on Thursday.
The US president condemned “steps that have been taken by Egypt’s interim government and security forces” and “violence against civilians.”
“We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest,” said Obama during his Thursday statement from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Obama’s statement came after a meeting with his national security team in which they discussed developments in Egypt following dispersal of pro-Mohamed Morsi sit-ins in Cairo on Wednesday that left more than 500 dead.
“While Mohamed Morsi was elected president in a democratic election, his government was not inclusive and did not respect the views of all Egyptians,” said Obama, who said chances for reconciliation existed after military intervention in early July.
“Instead we’ve seen a more dangerous path taken, through arbitrary arrest, a broad crackdown on Mr Morsi’s associations and supporters and now, tragically, violence that’s taken the lives of hundreds of people and wounded thousands more,” said Obama.
He condemned steps taken by the interim government and security forces, “deploring” violence against civilians. “We oppose the pursuit of martial law, which denies those rights to citizens under the principle that security trumps individual freedoms or that might makes right,” he said before extending condolences to those killed in Egypt on Wednesday.
“The cycle of violence and escalation needs to stop,” said Obama. “We call on those who are protesting to do so peacefully and condemn the attacks that we’ve seen by protesters, including on churches,” said Obama, who added that Egypt’s state of emergency should be lifted.
He went on to say that there needed to be a “process of national reconciliation.”
The Operation Bright Star military exercises between the US and Egypt first started in 1980 in order to strengthen ties between the two armies.