US Air Force F-16 during takeoff 370 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Members of Congress are asking the Obama administration to reconsider sending F-16 fighter jets to Egypt due to popular protests against the government and its use of anti-Semitic language.
“Recent violent outbreaks and the volatile situation in Egypt should give the US reason to pause when considering continuing to provide foreign assistance to the government of Egypt,” said Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East subcommittee, in announcing she was signing onto the letter sponsored by Republican Rep. Tim Griffin to US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. The letter requests that the administration delay the delivery of F-16 planes.
Ros-Lehtinen continued, “Even more disconcerting are Morsi’s views toward our closest friend and ally, the democratic Jewish State of Israel.”
She said that his statements “clearly reveal a man who holds Jews and Israel in such contempt that it would not be out of the realm of possibility to believe he is capable of turning his aggression toward Israel.”
Ros-Lehtinen was referring to video footage from 2010 in which Morsi referred to Jews as
“the descendants of apes and pigs” and urged Egyptians to “nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred” of Jews and Zionists.
Ros-Lehtinen also referred to the demonstrations that have racked Egypt as citizens have vented their frustration with the new government and chaos has reigned in some cities. Morsi declared several cities in a state of emergency on Wednesday night.
“With turmoil again on the rise in Egypt and the future of the Morsi Muslim Brotherhood-led government in doubt, it is clear that we need to reevaluate our foreign policy objectives when dealing with the Egyptian government,” she said, describing that government as one that has repeatedly violated people’s civil rights.
The State Department on Friday criticized the ongoing turmoil in Egypt.
“We strongly condemn the recent violence that’s taken place in Egypt,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “There are clearly a large number of Egyptians who are frustrated with the direction of political reform as well as the pace of economic reform in Egypt. We have been counseling all sides, whether it’s the government or whether it’s the opposition, that these issues need to be dealt with peacefully through dialogue.”
She added, in connection to declaring a state of emergency, “Given Egypt’s history this has to be handled carefully, and that what’s most important is that the Egyptian people see that their democratic government behaves democratically with regard to their human rights and that their human rights are protected.”