Anti-war.com & Bloomberg – 2011-02-04 02:53:33
Report: US Eyes Suleiman as Interim Ruler of Egypt
Newly Appointed VP Has Been Condemning Protesters
Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com
WASHINGTON (February 03, 2011) — Reports from the New York Times say that the Obama Administration is engaged in talks regarding an exit-strategy for longstanding ally and increasingly unpopular dictator Hosni Mubarak, and that right now, eyes are on newly appoint Vice President Omar Suleiman as the new ruler of a “transitional government.”
The proposal would have Suleiman seize power in the country with the support of Egypt’s military and “begin the process of constitutional reform.” Suleiman has been publicly praising Mubarak as “father and leader” of Egypt and insists that all true Egyptians are supporting his continued rule.
This leaves the question of whether Suleiman would be willing to abandon Mubarak and seize power for himself, whether on an interim basis or not. Suleiman has been angrily condemning the protesters and blaming “foreigners” for the unrest.
Suleiman has been the leader of Egyptâ€™s Intelligence Directorate for decade, and has close ties to the military as well as established ties to the US. This apparently makes him a suitable choice for the US for an interim leader, but with rampant speculation that the US is still hoping to salvage the Egyptian dictatorship under a different dictator, he may also be the most concerning candidate possible, one who might readily shed the “interim” label once the protesters are placated.
Pentagon: No Plans to Halt Weapons Deliveries to Egypt
Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com
(February 3, 2011) — Despite growing calls for a number of top members of the US Congress to halt the $1.5 billion in foreign aid to Egypt, the vast, vast majority of which is military in nature, the Pentagon insists it has no plans to stop delivering weapons or other aid to the Egyptian government.
“Thereâ€™s a difference between halting the aid and reviewing it,” insisted Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan, who said there were no plans to alter the scheduled deliveries of military aid.
During the early years of the Bush Administration, US aid to Egypt was in excess of $2 billion annually, but the level of non-military aid, particularly for pro-democracy reforms, has been slashed in recent years. Military aid has remained flat, and looks to continue to do so despite the massive uprising.
Col. Lapan reiterated that the Egyptian military has acted “professionally and with restraint,” but US aid has also gone to the police forces responsible for some of the most serious violence in the early days of the protests.
Lawmakers in US Call for
Halting Egypt Aid to Hasten Mubarak’s Departure
Julie Hirschfeld Davis / Bloomberg
(February 3, 2011) — Some senior members of the U.S. Congress are calling for a halt in foreign aid to Egypt as a way to hasten President Hosni Mubarakâ€™s exit from power amid continuing protests against his three-decade rule.
Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the panel that controls foreign aid, said he’s prepared to stop all U.S. financial assistance to Egypt — which topped $1.5 billion last year — unless Mubarak steps aside immediately and allows a transitional government to take over.
“If he doesn’t leave, there will not be foreign aid; I mean, it’s as simple as that,” Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, told Bloomberg Television in an interview yesterday. U.S. money “will not go to the Mubarak administration,” Leahy said, adding, “that’s a pipeline that can easily be turned off.”
Mubarak’s announcement earlier this week that he wouldn’t run in elections scheduled for September failed to quell protests against his government, and stoked the anger of demonstrators who have since stepped up their demands for his quick departure.
Leahy has been joined by Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat, in pushing to use the only degree of control lawmakers have on foreign policy matters — the power of the purse — to prod Mubarak off stage.
Doggett, a nine-term House member who previously sought to limit aid to Egypt, wrote to President Barack Obama yesterday asking him to make it clear to Mubarak and his government that, “Egypt will not receive one more cent of American money until he begins the peaceful, orderly transition to a democratically elected government today.”
The U.S. “must send the unmistakable message to Mubarak and all dictators who are watching our response that we will not continue to waste money propping up his tyranny,” Doggett wrote.
Some lawmakers have been reluctant to use the threat of ending U.S. aid as a lever to force Mubarak from power. Representative Nita Lowey of New York, the top Democrat on the House subcommittee that controls foreign assistance, hasnâ€™t called for such a move.
In a statement last week on the turmoil in Egypt, Lowey didnâ€™t mention Mubarak, saying that his country and the U.S. had been “partners” in the Middle East peace process, and that it was in the US interest that “Egypt remain a strong ally.”
Leahy said his preference would be to redirect the aid to a new group of leaders.
“What I’d like to be able to say is, ‘We’re in a position to help the transitional government that has democratic values, believes in democracy, but also believes in helping its own people,'” Leahy said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Hirschfeld Davis in Washington at or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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