At a Tuesday press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki surprised reporters when she began the briefing with a readout from a phone call that Kerry "just" placed with Amr to convey the Obama administration’s position on Egypt’s unrest. When asked why Kerry was conveying official messages to a minister who reportedly resigned Tuesday morning, Psaki told reporters she would "refer you to the Egyptian government" on Amr’s status.
So is he the foreign minister or not?
Officials at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington did not have answers for The Cable and refused to be quoted on the record. Every report of Amr’s resignation stems from the Egyptian state news agency MENA. As Reuters noted, "the report did not elaborate or say where it got the information."
Despite the lack of details, the report has served to convey further chaos and disarray in the Morsy government. AFP called the resignation "a further blow to Morsi" and exit of "the latest and most high profile minister." (At least five other ministers have resigned, according to reports, since mass protests occurred on Sunday.) It’s possible that Amr tendered his resignation but it was rejected by Morsy, keeping Amr in his position. Embassy officials declined to speculate on that possibility.
Psaki said Kerry told Amr that "it is important to listen to the Egyptian people" and that "the United States is committed to the democratic process in Egypt [and] does not support any single party or group."
The Cable will update when the Amr’s status is clarified.
At the briefing, Psaki went on to reject a CNN report said the Obama administration is urging Morsy to call for early elections. "Reports that we’ve been urging early elections are inaccurate" she said. In a statement to The Cable, a National Security Council spokesperson also said the report is "not accurate." The statement added: "President Obama has encouraged President Morsy to take steps to show that he is responsive to the concerns of the Egyptian people and underscored that the current crisis can only be resolved through a political process. As the President has made clear since the revolution, only Egyptians can make the decisions that will determine their future."
At the briefing, Psaki declined to say whether the U.S. was advocating that Morsy appoint a new cabinet or prime minister, as other reports have indicated.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |