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Sunday, February 03, 2013

Congress pushing to stop F-16 transfer to Egypt

Republicans in both houses of Congress are pushing to stop the Obama administration from gifting 20 F-16 fighter jets to the Morsy regime in Egypt.

On Thursday, the Senate voted 79-19 to kill an amendment that would have ended US military assistance to Egypt.
Voting 79 for and 19 against, the Senate on Jan. 31 tabled (killed) an attempt to end U.S. military assistance to Egypt in response to instability there under a Muslim Brotherhood-led government. Offered to HR 325 (above), the amendment sought, in part, to stop deliveries of military vehicles such as Abrams tanks and aircraft such as the F-16 fighter jet. Backers said the U.S. should not be propping up a government openly hostile to America, while opponents said the amendment would upend U.S.-Egypt relations, harm Israel and worsen chaos in the Middle East. 
A yes vote was to kill the amendment.
The amendment was proposed by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky).

But the Republicans have not given up. On Thursday, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Ok), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced a bill conditionally suspending military sales to Egypt
"For months, I have been calling on the President and his Administration to delay F-16 deliveries to Egypt," said Inhofe.

"I still am insisting the Administration suspend this transaction to Egypt. Today there was an effort on the Senate floor to cut off all sales of military equipment, including future F-16s, to Egypt.

While the intent is understood, the prohibition would cost taxpayers $2.2 billion and would rob the U.S. of leverage to put Egypt on the path toward true democracy.

"For decades, the U.S. has had a good relationship with Egypt, training their troops and working together to maintain peace and stability in the region.  Under Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, this relationship has come to a halt. We need to continue to support the Egyptian military, which Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have currently distanced themselves from. Egypt’s military is our friend – Morsi is our enemy.

"Today I have introduced a bill to delay any further deliveries of F-16s until the President certifies to Congress that the Government of Egypt agrees (1) to continue to uphold its commitments under the Camp David Peace Accords, (2) to provide proper security at United States embassies and consulates, (3) to bring stability to its nation by ending its systematic exclusion and silencing of all official minority political opposition, and (4) to take concrete steps to engage in dialogue with such opposition parties and consider a coalition, power-sharing government with such opposition parties. I believe that won’t happen until Morsi is gone, and we’ve got to keep this leverage to make this happen."
Earlier in the week, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) said that he would propose similar legislation.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl) has introduced legislation in the House that goes even further than Inhofe's bill, and last week sought co-sponsors via a Dear Colleague letter.
On Thursday, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) circulated a Dear Colleague letter seeking co-sponsors for H.R.416, a bill she introduced on January 25. The “Egypt Accountability and Democracy Promotion Act” would “condition security assistance and economic assistance to the Government of Egypt.” The letter expressed concern over Egypt’s turmoil, President Morsi’s “continued civil rights violations” and anti-Semetic comments, and that “aid could possibly be used for nefarious intentions.” The act would require “certification that Egypt is: Not controlled by a foreign terrorist organization, Transitioning to a free-market democratic government, Adopting and implementing legal reforms that protect the rights of all citizens, Fully implementing the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, [and] Destroying the smuggling network between Egypt and Gaza.”
Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky) announced on Thursday that he and several colleagues would send a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State John FN Kerry urging them not to send the F-16's to Egypt
“In the three years it has taken for the procurement of these aircraft, Egypt has undergone significant changes in their government, including a revolution and the installment of a new leader, Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Given this substantial change in circumstances, we strongly believe reconsideration of previously-allocated military assistance to this nation is critical.

Recent and previous statements by President Morsi indicate a clear hostility towards non-Muslims in Egypt as well as towards the United States and her allies—particularly Israel. Specifically, multiple recent reports of President Morsi’s anti-Semitic and anti-American comments, and of increased religious persecution and civil rights violations perpetrated by his government, are cause for great concern. The instability of the region is also evident from this weekend’s anti-government protests that resulted in at least 50 deaths and hundreds of injuries. We are also concerned with news of President Morsi granting emergency powers to the Egyptian military to arrest Egyptian civilians and serve as a police force in the country. Thus, the United States should be extremely cautious in providing any financial support to Egypt—to say nothing of military weaponry.”
Unfortunately, President Hussein Obama is likely to fight this at least as hard as he fought the Iran sanctions last term.... 

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