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Congress challenges continued ‘bankrolling’ of Egypt after Morsi’s refusal to condemn attacks

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — Congress is examining the prospect of severing
military and other assistance to Egypt.

Members of Congress have called for a resolution that would suspend
military and other aid to Egypt and Libya in wake of attacks on U.S.
diplomatic facilities. House Republicans sought to use a vote on the
so-called continuing resolution to extend federal funding through March 2013
to block aid to Cairo and Tripoli.

Protesters destroy an American flag pulled down from the U.S. embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11.

“Why is it that the United States is bankrolling some of these
countries?” Rep. Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican, asked. “Why do we continue to bankroll them at the level that we are? We’re waiting for that discussion from the administration.”

Egypt receives $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid, all but $200 million in
military assistance. The administration of President Barack Obama has pledged to deliver advanced F-16 Block 52 multi-role fighters over the next 18 months. In mid-September, Obama said Egypt was not a U.S. ally, but not an enemy either.

On Sept. 17, the House Foreign Affairs Committee scheduled a hearing on U.S. relations with Egypt. The hearing was canceled when the State Department refused to send officials to participate.

Officials said the administration was dismayed by the refusal of
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to condemn the Islamist attack on the U.S. embassy in Cairo. After nearly a week, Morsi issued a statement that stressed the need to protect foreign facilities but did not mention the storming of the American embassy.

Libya has received at least $40 million for programs to help find
weapons stolen from the arsenals of ousted ruler Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
Other assistance was allocated for civilian programs.

“It would show a tremendous amount of leadership from this
administration, in light of the recent developments, if the president were
to come back and demand that the amount of money that is in the [continuing
resolution] for Libya and Egypt be stripped,” Rep. Jeff Landry, a Louisiana
Republican, said.

Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said U.S. aid to Libya must be
contingent on Tripoli’s help to find those responsible for the attack on the
American consulate in Benghazi and the killing of ambassador Chris Stevens.
Unlike Egypt, Libya has apologized for the attack and acknowledged
insufficient security for the consulate.

“We send Egypt a couple of billions of dollars a year,” Paul said. “It
is inexcusable that they do not defend our embassy.”

Officials said the attack on the U.S. embassy led to a suspension of
talks for additional aid to Egypt. The administration had offered to reduce
Egypt’s debt to Washington by $1 billion and accelerate other aid.

“We are working with the Congress now on how we will move forward on
this,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Sept. 18. “We’ve
made an initial budget request.”

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