- By John HudsonJohn Hudson is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, where he covers diplomacy and national security issues in Washington. He has reported from several geopolitical hotspots, including Ukraine, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, and Georgia. Prior to joining FP, John covered politics and global affairs for the Atlantic magazine’s news blog, the Atlantic Wire. In 2008, he covered the August war between Russia and Georgia from Tbilisi and the breakaway region of Abkhazia. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News radio, Al Jazeera, and other broadcast outlets. He has been with the magazine since 2013.
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.