Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said Sunday on “This Week” that the Egyptian military’s violent crackdown on protesters will “no doubt” cause the U.S. to suspend aid, with Corker calling for the U.S. to “recalibrate” aid to Egypt long-term.
“I think the actions of the last week no doubt are going to cause us to suspend aid, and I think it’s, at the same time, a time for us to recalibrate and look at what is our national interest,” Corker told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.
Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has opposed efforts to suspend aid to Egypt, calling such action “terrible public policy” last month on the Senate floor.
Corker said on “This Week” that while most aid to Egypt this year has “already gone out the door,” the U.S. Senate should debate this fall the “tiers” of aid provided to Egypt, ensuring that national interests such as passage through the Suez Canal are protected. The U.S. provides $1.3 billion in aid annually to Egypt, the majority in military assistance.
“I hope we will continue to have an aid relationship with Egypt,” Corker said. “It’s time for us to recalibrate. Our relationship has been very, very static for the last 35 years. So, I don’t want to cut off our relations. And I do expect that we will continue to have aid forthcoming in a way that really directly focuses on our national interests.”
“I think aid will continue to flow after we have this debate this fall,” Corker added. “So, I think a suspension but a recalibration.”
Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on “This Week” that the U.S. should not suspend aid to Egypt despite the Egyptian military’s crackdown on protesters supporting deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
“Obviously, we cannot let what’s been happening just happen, but I think we have to be careful and not cut off our nose to spite our face,” Engel said on “This Week.”
“Egypt is an important country and I think we have to be very, very careful before we willy nilly just cut off aid,” Engel added.
Engel said while he is “very unhappy” with the military’s crackdown, he said the U.S. should continue to try to influence Egypt’s military leaders to “get them to pull back.”
“It’s very disconcerting that the generals in the military have not listened to us, but I think we need to keep it up. I think we need to talk to them. We need to try to influence them,” Engel said. “I don’t believe they want to blow up the relationship.”
While criticizing Egypt’s military, both Corker and Engel agreed that the Muslim Brotherhood was not a viable option for U.S. backing.
“We essentially have two choices in Egypt. And that’s a military government, which hopefully will transition as quickly as possible to civilian government, or the Muslim Brotherhood,” Engel said. “I don’t think the Muslim Brotherhood is a choice.”
“I hope this debate will shift, it’ll shift to a place where we’re pushing, obviously, for the government to act responsibly,” Corker said, adding, “I condemn what’s happened with the military but I also condemn what, in essence, was a political coup by the Muslim Brotherhood.”