The United States Embassy in Cairo will be closed this Sunday as Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Egypt for a series of high-level meetings as part of his first overseas tour.
“We regret that the U.S. Embassy Consular Section will be closed to the general public on Sunday, March 3,” the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said in a statement on its website. “Only emergency U.S. citizen services will be provided and U.S. citizens needing those services can contact the American Citizen Services Unit.”
The unusual closure has led some foreign policy observers to ask if the U.S. believes it is unsafe to keep the embassy open upon Kerry’s arrival. Kerry's stop in Cairo is part of a nine-nation tour that includes visits to Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
“The U.S. just gave Egypt four F-16 Fighting Falcons with Lockheed Martin Advanced Targeting Pods and Raytheon electronic jamming suites,” said one D.C. foreign policy insider. “Later this year we're going to give them a couple hundred M1A1 Abrams. It speaks volumes that we don't even feel safe keeping our embassy open while our secretary of state is in town. Let's not pretend that this country is a stable ally.”
"Clearly, there is a credible security threat to the secretary's visit that prompted the regional security officer to recommend and the ambassador to approve closing the embassy," said one Senate aide familiar with State Department procedure.
"In Cairo, Egypt, Secretary Kerry will meet with senior Egyptian officials, other political leaders, civil society leaders, and the business community to encourage greater political consensus and moving forward on economic reforms," the State Department said in a statement. "While in Cairo, the secretary will also meet with Arab League Secretary General Al-Araby to consult on our many shared challenges across the region."
Egyptian protestors scaled the walls of the Cairo embassy and tore down the American flag last year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Muslim protestors raised in the U.S. flag’s place a black banner associated with al Qaeda.
Anti-American sentiment continues to simmer in Egypt nearly a year after the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi took power.
The Obama administration has continued to supply Cairo with sophisticated weapons despite concerns about Egypt’s changing attitudes towards the U.S.
The State Department last month refused to cancel or delay the delivery of several American-made F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, claiming that the arms deal serves America’s “regional security interests.”
The weapons deal led to outrage among many Republicans on Capitol Hill who believe Egypt should not be armed until it proves it will remain an American ally.
Additionally, Morsi’s anti-Semitic attitudes and statements have raised ire in D.C. among Jewish groups and lawmakers.
Morsi has compared Jewish people and Israelis to “apes and pigs” and reportedly suggested to a delegation of vising senators that Jews control the U.S. media.
The State Department and U.S. Embassy in Cairo did not respond to Free Beacon requests for comment about the consulate’s closure.