News / USA

US Senators Voice Hopes, Concerns on Egypt Transition

Supporters of Egyptian President-elect Mohamed Morsi rally in front of a banner rejecting recent military edicts at Tahrir square in Cairo, June 26, 2012.
Supporters of Egyptian President-elect Mohamed Morsi rally in front of a banner rejecting recent military edicts at Tahrir square in Cairo, June 26, 2012.
Michael Bowman
CAPITOL HILL - U.S. lawmakers are expressing hopes and concerns about Egypt as Islamist President-elect Mohamed Morsi prepares to take office.
 
U.S. senators are closely monitoring Egypt’s political transition, including California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“This new Egyptian government can go either way. It can open to the ideas of others," said Feinstein. "It can work to develop a vibrant economy for the people, jobs for this very young country with so many young people.  Or it can turn inward into Sharia law and a much more fundamentalist Muslim country. And that is the worry.”

Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, is taking a wait-and-see approach.

“Everyone has concerns. But I will be traveling there [to Egypt] in the next couple of months, and I look forward to sitting down with the new president," said Corker.

"The presidency - a lot of the powers that normally would reside there have been taken away," Corker added. "The military is the main entity there now, and I have concerns about that. Certainly, all of us want to see them move to a real democracy.”

For decades, Egypt has been a major recipient of U.S. foreign aid, which Congress must approve each year. That aid might be subjected to heightened scrutiny in the months ahead, according to Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.

“Egypt is very important to the United States," he said. "We have a large footprint in Egypt. It is the largest Arab country in the world and it allows us, as a platform, to do a lot of our important international work."

"Our objectives are pretty clear. We want a partner that will help fight extremists, a partner that will continue with peace in the Middle East, and will move the country forward on democratic reform - particularly protecting the rights of its citizens," Corker added. "That is our objective. And we have a responsibility to the [U.S.] taxpayers to make sure our funds are used appropriately.  We also have a responsibility to America’s national security interests to pursue Egypt as a partner in our objectives.”

Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, voiced his apprehensions about the Muslim Brotherhood to which Mohamed Morsi belonged prior to his electoral victory. Lugar said it is important that longstanding ties between Washington and Cairo be maintained under a Morsi administration.

“Our expectation is that he will respect human rights, the democratic process, and work carefully [with the United States] - as opposed to being an adversarial figure,” Lugar said.

That view was echoed by Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “I just hope that he [Mohamed Morsi] will turn out to be someone who helps his country follow a moderate course of trying to work together with neighbors and trying to deal with any extreme elements in his own society that could create problems for his country,” said Levin.

Senator Feinstein said the stakes are high, and not only for Egypt. She said "what Egypt does with respect to Israel is important. Israel’s right to exist is important. A two-state solution is important. Diplomatic relations [between Egypt and Israel] are important. Whether that is all severed or not is unknown to most of us.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and President-elect Morsi spoke by telephone on Sunday, affirming a mutual commitment to advance U.S.-Egyptian ties. Mr. Morsi says Egypt will abide by its international obligations - including its treaty with Israel as long as Israel does the same.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs