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U.S. opts not to define Egypt ouster as a coup; tensions rise ahead of planned protests

By CNN Staff
July 26, 2013 -- Updated 0202 GMT (1002 HKT)
The Obama administration will not make a formal determination as to whether the ouster of Mohamed Morsy was a coup.
The Obama administration will not make a formal determination as to whether the ouster of Mohamed Morsy was a coup.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Egypt is bracing for mass rival rallies on Friday
  • A coup determination would force the administration to cut military aid to vital Mideast ally
  • Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy was ousted July 3 by the military after mass protests
  • Obama administration has delayed delivery of fighter jets to Egypt

Washington (CNN) -- The Obama administration will not make a formal determination as to whether the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy by the military was a coup, a senior administration official told CNN's Jill Dougherty on Thursday.

A coup determination would force the United States to end military aid to Egypt.

"The law does not require us to make a formal determination as to whether a coup took place and it is not in our national interest to make such a determination," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Egyptian army chief calls for protests

The administration sees continuing aid to Egypt -- more than $1 billion annually -- to be "consistent with our law" and necessary to further U.S. national security interests, the source said.

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The news, first reported by The Associated Press, came as Egypt braced for rival rallies set for Friday by Morsy's supporters and those who backed his ouster by the military.

Morsy, Egypt's first democratically elected president, has not been seen publicly since he was pushed from office by the military on July 3 after mass protests over his leadership and suspended the constitution.

Dozens of people have reportedly been killed and thousands injured since Morsy's ouster, some of them in confrontations with authorities and others in clashes with those on the other side of the political spectrum.

Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of Egypt's military, has called for mass demonstrations Friday to support the country's armed forces. He is calling the protests a "mandate" for the military after weeks of violence that he has blamed on Morsy's supporters, primarily the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, issued its own call for protests.

The group has refused to recognize the ouster, saying Morsy is the legitimate president.

Al-Sisi warned that any violence "will be confronted with the resolve and strength" of the military.

"We call upon various political faction to avoid any act of provocation," he said in statement released Thursday.

There has been growing concern about among world leaders about the increase in violence since Morsy's ouster.

The country is considered a vital regional ally for the United States, which signaled its displeasure with Morsy's ouster on Wednesday when the Pentagon said it was delaying the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets.

It's not clear what conditions would be imposed before the aircraft would be cleared for shipment. The Pentagon said, however, that it was not suspending overall arms sales to Egypt at this time.

CNN's Ben Wedeman contributed to this report from Cairo

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