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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs