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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid