WASHINGTON (AP) — As Arab Spring democracy uprisings spread across the Middle East, President Barack Obama's response to the political unrest has been to voice support for people seeking representative governments but limit the role the United States will play to shape those efforts.
The president's philosophy of limited engagement is facing perhaps its toughest test in Egypt, where the nation's first democratically elected president was ousted by military forces with deep ties to the U.S. that lasted decades.
The White House has refused to declare Mohammed Morsi's removal from power a coup. That step would require Obama to suspend $1.3 billion in annual aid. Obama's resistance to suspending the military aid leaves the White House with little leverage, effectively relegating him to the role of a bystander issuing strongly worded statements.