On Wednesday, July 16th, six members of Congress launched the Friends of Egypt Caucus, emphasizing the importance of Egypt as an ally of the United States in the fight against terrorism. Caucus members stated that while the Obama administration promised a restoration of military aid to Egypt back in April, they still have not acted on the promise.
The U.S. relationship with Egypt has been teetering in uncertainty since last July, when millions of Egyptians demonstrated against the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi, which had been steadily eroding democratic institutions. While the Obama administration never outright labeled those events a coup, it behaved as if they were, suspending U.S. aid. Apache helicopters and vital spare parts are still sitting in Texas, even though Obama said more than three months ago that aid would be restored.
Caucus co-chair Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said, “Unfortunately, as Egypt seeks to defend itself from the terrorist threat, especially that in the Sinai Peninsula, American support has not matched the danger. For example, we have withheld spare parts which have kept Egypt’s fleet of Apache attack helicopters on the ground for over a year.”
Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), the Caucus’s co-chair, stated: “The purpose of this caucus is not to take any one side, but to promote dialogue and understanding within the House of Representatives and to engage in deeper discussion on issues and developments in Egypt. I hope this caucus will provide a bipartisan and open venue for Members to provide their perspectives.” Other caucus members include Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), and Louie Gohmert (R-TX).
Egypt is facing heightened violence on three of its borders–in Libya, Sudan and Gaza, while also facing domestic attacks from groups that include the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. According to Katie Gorka, president of the Council on Global Security, “The United States should be looking to Egypt as a key ally in restoring peace to the Middle East, especially now with the Israeli/Gaza crisis and ISIS threatening to destabilize the entire region. By remaining a friend to Egypt, we also have much a better chance of supporting democratic reforms and human rights in Egypt. Without the U.S., Putin becomes the big influence, which would not bode well for the Egyptian people.”