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Obama Cautious on Egypt Turmoil

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The U.S. is reacting cautiously to the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the Egyptian Army removed the president, who has served just one year in office, and suspended the months-old, Islamist-leaning constitution. The ouster has thrown the country into a new period of political turmoil.

The move came in response to days of mass protests by detractors. The former head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adli al-Mansour, was sworn in as interim president Thursday.

The army has arrested leadership among Morsi supporters, including those in the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Both anti-Morsi celebrations and pro-Morsi demonstrations are being staged in Cairo, according to media reports. The army has promised the new government would be more diverse and has consulted other conservative Islamic voices, including representatives of Egypt's hardline Islamist Al Nour party, in formation of its political road map.

The Army's move puts the Obama administration in a difficult position. The overthrow and crackdown are being widely criticized as a military coup that undercuts the newly established democratic process in Egypt. The Obama administration described the situation as "fluid" and is in contact with leaders in Egypt and is also in communication with leaders in Israel and other world leaders, the White House said.

In a statement Thursday, President Obama implied disapproval of the army's method but stopped short of supporting or criticizing the ouster, instead calling on both sides to avoid violence and to return Egypt to an open democratic process as quickly as possible.

"Given today's developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt," the president said.

Egypt controls the Suez Canal, a key supply route for Mideast oil.

--Written by Carlton Wilkinson