The United States gives about $1.23 billion in military aid to Egypt yearly. Now some of that aid is temporarily being put on hold, leaving not only Egyptians on edge, but some American companies, who want that money to keep flowing because they are the ones benefiting.
“The U.S. doesn't cut a check to Egypt. It deposits the aid in an account at the Federal Reserve Bank,” reports CNN’s Chris Lawrence.
“That money pays American defense contractors to build the weapons and parts for Egypt,” including “$400 million to General Dynamics for tank kits, and $2.5 billion to Lockheed for F-16s.”
Lobbyists for the companies are partially to credit for helping them earn these contracts.
“They reminded lawmakers that if the Boeings and Lockheeds can't build weapons for Egypt, all those small town suppliers—from Lima, Ohio to Oxford Michigan—will get buried.”
Former Congressman Jim Kolbe is familiar with that pitch.
"The contractors have a vested interest in keeping the process going forward,” Kolbe says, so freezing aid would hurt the U.S.
“Cutting the aid won't get the government out of paying off the defense contracts it signed,” Lawrence reports.
Kolbe says, "It's going to end up costing the taxpayers a lot of money and getting nothing in return.
“The bottom line,” Lawrence says, “even though the U.S. has only transferred about half of this year’s $1.2 billion into the Egypt fund, withholding the other 600 million doesn't really save any money and may end up costing jobs.”
A promised crackdown operation on protesters in Cairo this morning turned violent.
Police moved in on the two sit-ins around dawn, firing warning shots in the air and demanding the supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsy leave.
But they refused to go. Now, after hours of fighting, Egyptian officials say at least one demonstration camp has been cleared.
“This place looks like a warzone,” CNN’s Reza Sayah reports from East Cairo, in the midst of the main sit-in that’s been underway for more than six weeks.
There are conflicting claims over just how many people were killed and injured.
The Muslim Brotherhood says hundreds are dead. Egyptian officials say only sixwere killed, dozens more injured.
“It’s not clear who’s doing the shooting,” Sayah says. “It’s a highly charged atmosphere, a lot of people emotional.”
Sayah says protesters are defiant, telling him they are not leaving, "and we are prepared to die."
Stay tuned for live updates on CNN and follow along at CNN.com for developments.
CNN is reporting breaking news from Cairo where deadly protests erupted early this morning.
Egyptian security forces opened fire on protesters outside the Republican Guard Headquarters, where deposed former President Mohammed Morsy is reportedly being held.
Health officials say at least 42 people are dead and hundreds wounded.
CNN’s Reza Sayah is monitoring developments live from Cairo.
Follow along on CNN.com as the story develops.
The tense situation in Egypt grows even more fragile this morning.
Removed from power Wednesday night, deposed President Mohamed Morsy is now in military custody along with several top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.
While opponents of Morsy and the Brotherhood are celebrating the events of the past week, supporters are calling for mass protests.
Reza Sayah is live in Cairo with the latest.
“One day after the armed forces toppled him from power, Egypt's top prosecutor banned Morsy from leaving the country, then launched an investigation into accusations that the former president incited deadly violence,” Sayah reports.
“More than 30 Muslim Brotherhood leaders, also in custody and facing charges.”
Interim President Adly Mansour reached out to the president's supporters after being sworn in on Thursday, inviting the Muslim Brotherhood to help build the nation.
But many among the Brotherhood are not swayed.
“Instead they're planning a day of protests,” Sayah says, “calling it ‘Friday of Rejection.’” Those demonstrations are set to begin after Friday prayers.
“Some of the most hard-lined supporters of the Brotherhood, Mr. Morsy, have made provocative statements saying they’re prepared to die," Sayah says. "Others Brotherhood leaders are saying keep things peaceful.”
Follow along on CNN.com as the news develops.
The Obama Administration is closely watching the developments in Egypt.
The president released a statement urging the Egyptian people to be responsible for determining the country's future.
His statement read in part: “I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible...”
CNN's Athena Jones is covering the implications of that live in Washington.
Morsy was Egypt's first democratically elected president, “and this administration has stressed the importance of the democratic process in Egypt,” she reports.
“What's notable here in the president’s statement is, he did not say the democratically elected government, but a democratically elected one, which doesn't mean Morsy's government.”
The president also refrained from calling the situation in Egypt a coup. Jones explains the legal reasons.
CNN is following a country in chaos this morning.
Events in Egypt are moving swiftly after the military ousted Mohamed Morsy from power Wednesday night and reportedly placed him under house arrest.
A new leader was sworn in just moments ago. General Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, Chief of Egypt's Armed Forces announced that Adly Mansour, the head of Egypt's highest court will replace Morsy as interim president.
But clashes followed the announcement of a coup. Egyptian state television reports that at least 32 people were killed and more than 340 wounded.
CNN's Reza Sayah is in Cairo following the developments on the ground.
“Droves of military convoys flooded the streets of Egypt's capital, propelling the nation on a road toward change,” Sayah reports.
“While the military's coup was met with cheers in Tahrir square, across the Nile River supporters of the deposed president chanted ‘down with the military’ and ‘the square has a million martyrs’…denouncing his ouster.”
CNN is following the growing unrest now in Egypt, where an ultimatum faces President Mohammed Morsy.
Egypt's military has given the embattled leader 48 hours to resolve the ongoing political crisis that's brought thousands to the streets, or the military says it will step in.
President Obama has called Morsy from Africa, encouraging him make sure all Egyptians are represented in the government. According to the White House, President Obama stressed "democracy is about more than elections".
Reza Sayah is in Cairo this morning following developments.
Violence erupted in Cairo last night when supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsy clashed around the presidential palace in reaction to Morsy’s perceived grab for power. Demonstrators hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at each other. At least 5 were killed in the violence and hundreds were injured.
Tanks and armored personnel carriers are guarding the palace this morning. CNN’s Ian Lee has more for us live from Cairo. He joins us by phone. “Right now there’s kind of an uneasy calm in Cairo,” Lee says.
On Early Start this morning, Peter Brookes, the former deputy assistant of the Secretary of Defense, argues that the American response to unrest in the Middle East has been appropriate so far, but that more can be done.
“We have to secure our embassies and make sure that they are not breached,” Brookes adds. “We have to call upon the governments that are responsible for security outside of the embassies.”
The senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation also says that the United States needs to investigate who is responsible for the deaths of four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Libya. "We've got to figure out who did this," he says. "That's the important thing. You've got to be able to figure out who do it.
Brookes adds that the U.S. must "call on these governments to tamp down the violence, to call on people to restrain from violence."
Across the Middle East protests have occurring in areas like Yemen and Egypt where demonstrators have been scaling embassy walls trying to gain access to interior parts of the compounds. The demonstrations come after a film produced in the United States depicting Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and ruthless killer was released online.
Fmr. U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns says the recent protests are “a time of testing” for the United States. “What we appear to be seeing in Egypt, in Libya and in Yemen are relatively moderate governments who are under some challenge for more conservative... reactionary forces in their own society.” Burns adds that the government forces in these areas are trying “to maintain their position, fend off conservative forces and unfortunately the United States has ended up in the middle of it.”
Some House conservatives are calling for foreign aid to be stripped from Libya and Egypt, while others are considering the message pulling aid might send to the region after the death of a U.S. Ambassador. Burns says, “The United States absolutely has reason to be outraged at what happened to our ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya….I actually think rather than to withdraw the aid right now, our focus should be on getting these Arab leaders to stand up, be accountable in their own societies and be responsible for law and order.”
"Early Start with John Berman and Christine Romans" airs weekdays from 5-6am ET on CNN. Check in regularly for news, show updates and a little bit of fun.