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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs