Lawmakers and top officials took to the Sunday Shows to debate the situation in Egypt and the United States’ role moving forward as the unrest grows. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs Chairman, focused on the importance of a “stable” Egypt.
“At one level our stake is, we probably have 60,000 or so dual American-Egyptian citizens in Egypt, and we have several hundred official American citizens serving in Egypt. But more broadly, Egypt is a great country. It’s a cornerstone of the Middle East. It’s got an incredible history and culture. The world needs Egypt to be stable.” Dempsey told CNN’s Candy Crowley.
“But they don’t want their government in anymore,” Crowley noted.
“Again, that’s for them to decide, and I really mean that sincerely,” Dempsey said. “What we’re seeing is that democracy takes a while to stick.”
Lawmakers across the political spectrum seemed to agree Sunday that democracy was not and will not be an easy task. However, they did not agree on the path forward for the U.S.-Egyptian relationship.
Egypt needs to become “an Egypt for all, and that means participation in the government of all different sectors of the Egyptian society,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D, N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told NBC’s Meet the Press.
In light of the recent events, Menendez said the U.S should now be “using our [financial] assistance as leverage, at the end of the day, to ensure that we end up with an Egypt for all.”
On the question of U.S. aid, Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) took a stronger stance.
Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation McCain, said what we saw in Egypt “was a coup, and it was the second time in 2 and a half years we have seen the military step in … reluctantly, I believe that we have to suspend aid until such time that there is a new constitution and a free and fair election.”
“Morsi was a terrible president. Their economy is in terrible shape thanks to their policies, but the fact is the United States should not be supporting this coup and it’s a tough call,” McCain said. “I hope that the pressure that it brings on the Egyptian military will make for a very rapid transition.”
Some Democrats and Republicans said removing aid was hasty.
“Part of the aid that we supply is in support of the treaty. Again we need to look at our national interests. There will be plenty of time to assess the aid issue,” Senator Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) said.
“You know, it seems like Washington always want to jump to something that really in many cases, at this moment, does not matter.”
“Our role,” Corker said, “should be to help in every way we can to preserve a more calm atmosphere as they try to move through this very treacherous environment right now.”
Senator Jack Reed (D., R.I.) appeared with Corker on Fox News Sunday, and expressed similar sentiments.
“This is a very unusual situation, if not unique. … Will cutting off aid accelerate or enhance the opportunities and the chances to have a truly democratic government?” Reed asked. “I don’t think so. I think also there are other strategic issues at play.”
Under U.S. law, the government is required to suspend monetary aid in the event a nation’s government is overthrown in a military coup. Currently the United States provides Egypt with $1.5 billion in foreign aid.
The United States has not officially labeled the removal of Morsi a coup. Representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood were unclear why the designation had not been made.
“I don’t understand what naivety can behold any person to see all the ingredients, political science wise, of a coup and not see it as a coup,” Gehad El-Haddad, Spokesmen of the Muslim Brotherhood, said on ABC’s This Week. “It’s every ingredient of a full police state.”
Egypt’s ambassador to the United States, Mohamed Tawfik disagreed. “Egypt has not undergone a military coup,” he said, “and it is certainly not run by the military.”
ABC’s Jonathan Karl challenged this asking, “This is not a coup?”
“Absolutely not.” Tawfik maintained.
El-Haddad told CNN the Muslim Brotherhood had no intention of backing down.
“There’s no plan B,” El-Haddad said. “At the end of the day we stick by our principles. It’s we either return the President back to his rightful place or they’re going to have to shoot it in the streets.”
“It’s been too long. And this country has been robbed for its freedoms. I’m not willing to let my son and my daughter inherit the state in that mess. I will stand in front of that tank even if it rolls on our dead bodies,” he said.