News / USA

US Senators Speak Out on Egypt

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., makes a statement on the crisis in Egypt, on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 02, 2011.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., makes a statement on the crisis in Egypt, on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 02, 2011.

Even before Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that he will not seek reelection, U.S. senators were speaking of his departure from power as a given.  Senators from both major political parties said Tuesday that U.S. aid to Egypt has been money well spent, and showed no inclination to alter or cut off that aid - at least for now.  

Hours beforeMr. Mubarak's statement, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, said Egyptians have "moved beyond" their president. The Massachusetts Democrat said that declining to run for reelection should be but a first step for the Egyptian leader.

"To go even further - to move to put together a caretaker government over these next months in order to avoid violence and help transition Egypt to the future that its people want and deserve," he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. take part in a news conference,on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 02, 2011.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. take part in a news conference,on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 02, 2011.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina echoed the call for a caretaker government, and urged continued U.S. engagement with Egypt.

"I think it would be wise for us [i.e., the United States] to be on the ground floor of helping this transition, rather than having a totally hands-off policy," he said.

The Obama administration has applauded calls for change in Egypt, but says Egyptians must decide their country’s future.  For decades, Egypt has been one of the biggest recipients of U.S. foreign aid, totaling more than $1.5 billion a year during the past decade.

Connecticut Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman says it is money well spent.

"It did support a government which, over the years, has been very instrumental in maintaining stability in the Middle East," said Lieberman. "The second thing is, a lot of the money goes to the Egyptian military.  And I think even in this moment of crisis, we see that the military is playing a critically important role in unifying the country."

Lieberman says now is not the time to threaten Egyptians or their military with a cut-off of U.S. aid.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Lugar (File Photo).
Senate Foreign Relations Committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Lugar (File Photo).
Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agrees.

"I think it would be inappropriate to be having that discussion while the Egyptians themselves are attempting to formulate appropriate governance," said Lugar.

Fellow Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine also says U.S. aid to Egypt has been constructive for both nations and the Middle East as a whole.  But she hesitates when asked whether she would guarantee future American assistance to Egypt.

"I think it is premature to make that conclusion," said Collins. "For example, if somehow the Muslim Brotherhood gained control of the country, then clearly we would not be giving any aid to Egypt."

Founded in the 1920s to resist British control of Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is a transnational Islamist political movement currently banned in the country.

Senator Lieberman says he does not assume that a new Egyptian leadership would be hostile to the United States or Israel. But he adds that President Mubarak can help assure the best possible outcome.

"He is a patriot, a nationalist," said Lieberman. "And one of the great tests of a leader is how you end your time of leadership and transfer power to somebody else, hopefully in a way that is even better for the country. And the people of Egypt are obviously asking for change."

U.S. senators are publicly backing that change and generally appear cautiously optimistic about what that change could bring.

 

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid