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Politics

Vern Buchanan Stays the Course on Cutting Foreign Aid to Egypt

July 8, 2013 - 6:00pm

While at least two of Florida's Republican congressmen are adopting a wait-and-see approach to continued foreign assistance to Egypt, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is having none of it.

The American taxpayer should not be funding an Egyptian military that just yesterday massacred 50 of its own people, Buchanan said in a statement Tuesday, in reference to the53 people killed and more than 400 wounded on Monday when Egyptian soldiers opened fire on supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi. When is Washington going to wake up and realize that we cannot buy friendships across the globe?

Last week, in response to a series ofanti-Morsi demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria, and other Egyptian cities.the head of the nation's armed forces, Gen. Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi, deposed Morsi, who had been democratically elected a little over a year ago. Replacing Morsi is Adly Mansour, a jurist who heads Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court.

Morsi, a member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, had come under fire from the country's moderate Muslims and the Christian minority for his moves to strengthen the country's imposition of sharia, the traditional Muslim legal system that discriminates against women and non-Muslims.

The Obama administration has so far declined to officially characterize the deposition as a "coup"; doing so would trigger federal statutes that would make Egypt ineligible for further taxpayer subsidies.

Buchanan has been a steadfast critic of American foreign aid to Middle Eastern countries, especially Syria and Egypt, whose citizens have elected leaders more sympathetic to Islamic law than the socialist dictators toppled by the "Arab Spring" revolutions. Buchanan has sponsored legislationthat would suspend all military and foreign assistance to Egypt, which since 1979 has been the second largest recipient, to the tune of about $2 billion every year.

U.S. Reps. Ted Yoho and Trey Radel have told Sunshine State News they're taking a "wait-and-see" approach to developments in Egypt, before they decide whether foreign aid to the country should continue. Both have expressed cautious optimism about last week's developments, though Yoho insists foreign aid should be suspended until it becomes clear the new regime moves the country in the direction of more robust civil liberties protections.

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at 954-235-9116.

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