Florida Republicans Split on Cutting Aid to Egypt
Around the State
Last week, the Obama administration cut foreign and military aid to Egypt, leading conservatives in Florida to divide on the issue. The administration based its decision, which includes canceling military exercises with Egypt and stopping F-16 fighters slated for service for that African nation, based upon the military’s removal of President Mohammed Morsi in August.
“The United States wants to see Egypt succeed, and we believe the U.S.-Egypt partnership will be strongest when Egypt is represented by an inclusive, democratically-elected civilian government based on the rule of law, fundamental freedoms, and an open and competitive economy,” a senior official told the media in a conference call on Wednesday. “Now I say that because I think our assistance – our decisions on assistance -- should be seen with those fundamental points in mind. We want to see Egypt succeed and we want to see Egypt have an inclusive democracy.
Senior administration officials spoke to the press on Wednesday to stress “the United States and Egypt have a longstanding partnership and many shared interests” while adding cutting aid could help “inclusive democracy” succeed there.
“Now since then, we recognize, and the president noted this in his remarks to the General Assembly a couple of weeks ago, that Mohammed Morsi was democratically elected, but he proved unwilling or unable to govern in a way that was fully inclusive,” the official continued. “Now since then, the interim government that replaced him last summer, we recognized had the support of millions of Egyptians who believed that that revolution had taken a wrong turn. But we think that it, too, has made decisions inconsistent with inclusive democracy, which sort of leads us to where we are now.”
With the U.S. estimated to be cutting aid to Egypt by hundreds of millions, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., had rare kind words for President Barack Obama on Wednesday .
“I commend the president for taking significant steps toward ending the practice of financially aiding a foreign government that has not proven worthy of our hard-earned American tax dollars,” Buchanan said. “For years, I have been urging Washington to take a more pragmatic approach to foreign aid rather than trying to purchase influence at any price. Hopefully this approach will serve as the cornerstone of foreign policy, not just for Egypt but in our dealings with every country across the globe.
“As America’s debt continues to skyrocket, we need to be focusing on policies that grow the U.S. economy, create jobs and reduce the massive federal deficit,” Buchanan added. “It’s time to put America first.”
Buchanan has crafted a bill to suspend military and foreign aid to Egypt which has received, on average, $2 billion from the U.S. since 1979.
But another Republican from the Sunshine State criticized the decision, attacking Obama on a host of fronts and calling for U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to resign.
“It is not just that the Obama shutdown strategy is to inflict pain on American citizens, he is also using it to punish our once best Arab ally, Egypt,” former U.S. Rep. Allen West insisted on Friday. “It seems that Obama has chosen this moment to shut off aid to Egypt, under the guise of the government slimdown, right as his Muslim Brotherhood buddies are stepping up their terrorist attacks against Egyptians, especially Coptic Christians.
“You are not going to hear a peep from Obama about the persecution of the Copts from his ‘moderate’ comrades who represent the granddaddy of radical Islamist terrorism,” West continued. “He cuts off aid to an Egypt that has been thrown into a vicious sectarian, civil war of his doing through support of a Muslim Brotherhood government.”
While he lost to Democrat Patrick Murphy in 2012, West has opened the door to a political comeback in 2016. In recent weeks, West has said he would consider running for the U.S. Senate if U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., runs for the presidency.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.