US congressmen gulf over Egypt aid widens

US congressmen gulf over Egypt aid widens
Mon Aug 19, 2013 20:05:08

As the death toll from police crackdown in the Egyptian capital ratchets up, US congressmen remain at odd over the policies that Washington should embark on its military aid to Egypt.

"I would cut off aid but engage in intense diplomacy in Egypt and in the region to try to say, look, we will restore aid when you stop the bloodshed in the street and set up a path towards democracy that you were on before," Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison said on Sunday.

"In my mind, there's no way to say that this was not a coup. It is. We should say so. And then follow our own law, which says we cannot fund the coup leaders," Ellison said.

The Obama administration has so far refused to declare Morsi's removal in early July a 'military coup'.

Hundreds of people were killed in Cairo’s crackdowns last week as Morsi’s supporters protested. Thousands more were injured.

The US canceled joint military exercises with Egypt scheduled for September, and delayed the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to the Middle East ally.

Washington provides the Egyptian military with $1.3 billion in annual aid, making the North African country the second biggest recipient of US foreign aid after Israel.

Congressman Pete King said curtailing aid could reduce US influence over Egypt's interim government, which controls access to strategic resources, including the Suez Canal, according to the Associated Press.

King, who chairs the House panel on counterterrorism and intelligence, said, "We certainly shouldn't cut off all aid."

On Sunday, Sen. John McCain urged the White House again to cut aid as the Egyptian military continues to crack down on protesters who call for return of Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who was democratically elected.

"For us to sit by and watch this happen is a violation of everything that we stood for," said the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The United States is feared to cut military aid to Cairo, according to analysts, since Persian Gulf Arab leaders like Qatar and Suadi Arabia and countries such as Russia and China may replace the United States shortly, thus, the US clout in the North African state declines.

MRKD/SHI

 

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