WASHINGTON – During a hearing today on the crisis in Egypt, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the U.S. should call for calm in Egypt and encourage a peaceful transition to democracy, rather than make an immediate decision about the future of the relationship with Egypt. Multiple witnesses at the hearing testified that an immediate end to U.S. assistance to Egypt could threaten U.S. influence, lead to further instability, and undermine U.S. national security interests in the region.
“Our nation’s role in Egypt right now should be an instrument of calmness,” said Corker. “All too often we make these issues about us…when this is really about them, and it’s about an orderly transition and hopefully moving to a democratic process.”
Corker also noted the national security interests of the U.S. for a return to stability in Egypt.
"We're trying to decide how we move ahead with Egypt...knowing the quandries that we face in this relationship, but at the same time understanding the importance of Egypt as a strategic ally and candidly very important entity in the region that we want to see stability prevail in," said Corker.
Former U.S. Ambassador Dennis Ross warned a precipitous cut off of U.S. assistance to Egypt’s military “won’t end up serving our interests or our values,” arguing instead for the U.S. to use aid as leverage to advocate a stable, peaceful, inclusive, and transparent transition to a new democratic government.
“We should try to use our leverage quietly for now, but there should be no doubt on the part of the military and the interim government that we will become more vocal and if there is no responsiveness, we will be prepared to cut off assistance,” said Ross.
Retired U.S. Ambassador Dr. Daniel C. Kurtzer argued further that “it would make no sense for the United States to cut off aid to the Egyptian military, the one group in Egypt that continues to share our interests and the only group ultimately capable of assuring domestic stability.”
“A cut-off of assistance now would gain nothing for the United States,” said Kurtzer, who noted a series of national security interests at stake for the U.S. in Egypt, including security cooperation, regional stability, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and support for democracy.
For archived video footage and complete witness testimony, visit: http://1.usa.gov/172lVqE.