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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' at 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid