News / Middle East

    US Lawmaker Vows to Block US Military Aid to Egypt

    U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy wraps up a talk to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington April 29, 2014.
    U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy wraps up a talk to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington April 29, 2014.
    Victor Beattie
    U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy said he intends to block aid to Egypt’s military until he sees “convincing evidence” the interim military-backed government is committed to the rule of law. The lawmaker’s statement came as Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy met with Secretary of State John Kerry and insisted his country is moving forward on the path to democracy.
     
    Speaking Tuesday on the Senate floor, Patrick Leahy, chairman of the subcommittee on the State Department and Foreign Operations, denounced what he called the “sham trial” Monday during which a court reportedly sentenced to death nearly 700 supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Leahy called it a “flaunting of human rights” by the Egyptian government and “an appalling abuse of the justice system,” which he said is fundamental to democracy.
     
    "Nobody, nobody can justify this. It doesn’t show democracy. It shows a dictatorship run amok. It is a total violation of human rights. So, I’m not prepared to sign off on the additional delivery of aid for the Egyptian military. I’m not prepared to do that until we see convincing evidence the government is committed to the rule of law," said Leahy.
     
    On Monday, the United States said it was “deeply troubled” by the mass death sentence verdict. White House officials said “it defies even the most basic standards of international justice.” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm saying the “verdicts…appear not to meet basic fair trial standards” and they “are likely to undermine prospects for long-term stability.”
     
    The case stemmed from deadly riots last year after security forces violently disbanded protests held by Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Last month, the same court in Minya sentenced 529 defendants to death, drawing similar international criticism.
     
    Meeting in Washington Tuesday with Fahmy, Kerry insisted the United States wants the interim Egyptian government to be successful.
     
    "We are hopeful and look for a political process of inclusivity, a constitution implemented which brings people politically to the table and broadens the democratic base of Egypt," said Kerry.
     
    Kerry called the recent court rulings “disturbing decisions” that raise serious challenges.
     
    Fahmy said the judicial system is independent of the government.
     
    "I can’t comment on the content of the decisions themselves, but I’m confidence that due process is allowed and that the legal system will ultimately end up with the proper decisions in each of these cases," said Fahmy.
     
    He said his country will build a democracy based on the rule of law, and that the people of Egypt want democracy and a better future. Fahmy also said the country is moving forward, pointing to the constitution, a presidential election next month, and a parliamentary election which will come after the presidential one.
     
    The Obama administration has relaxed a ban on military aid to Cairo imposed in the wake of the violence that followed Morsi's ouster last year. Last week, the Defense Department announced $650 million in military aid and 10 Apache helicopters for Cairo. On Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the aid has the blessing of President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
     
    "This is a relationship, from a military-to-military perspective, that matters.  It’s important, and we want to see it continue," said Kirby.
     
    Kirby said the aid is for Egypt’s security requirements in the Sinai and promised to consult with members of Congress and keep them informed as the aid moves forward.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora