WASHINGTON, D.C. — The chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare tells Breitbart News that America’s longtime ally Egypt is turning to Russia for military assistance because the Obama administration has “abandoned” the North African country.
Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC), the chairman, spoke to Breitbart News after his recent meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The North Carolina congressman indicated that Sisi has been denied military assistance requested to combat the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) threat in Egypt’s volatile Sinai Peninsula.
Pittenger told Breitbart News:
The Egyptian president is always expressing great respect and gratitude towards the United States for all it has done for Egypt. In the same spirit, I think it was clear that he has not received the support that he wishes to receive in fighting ISIS in the Sinai and the Muslim Brotherhood and also confronting the threat of ISIS coming from Libya…
Sisi has requested military supplies and assistance and he just hasn’t received that… The Obama administration has not given the Egyptian president the same measure of support it has received from the United States in the past.
Pittenger went on to note that Egypt is turning to Russia for military aid.
“The Russians are reportedly holding naval exercises with Egypt. All of this is because we’ve abandoned a 40-year-old relationship with Egypt despite Sissi standing strong and very vocal against Islamic terrorists,” pointed out the congressman.
He said the Obama administration has “absolutely” pushed the Egyptian president closer to Russia.
“There’s no doubt about it,” he continued. “If we’re too stuffy to help them and think we’re too good, they will continue to turn to Russia.”
Pittenger praised President Sisi for leading a crackdown against Islamic extremists within Egypt, namely members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and for helping religions minorities like the Coptic Christians.
“He has built over a hundred churches for the Coptic Christians. The Coptic Christians are pleased — they are so grateful to the Egyptian president for the stability and ability to worship without being slaughtered by the Muslim Brotherhood,” he told Breitbart News.
“When I thanked him for his efforts to protect religious minorities, he said ‘Congressman, we have no minorities — everyone is an Egyptian’ and then he clasped his hands together and said ‘Muslims and Christians are brothers,’” noted Pittenger.
Although acts of aggression against Coptic Christians have dropped under Sisi, the president has been accused of ignoring the ongoing tensions between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.
The Obama administration has described its relationship with Egypt as “complicated.”
Sisi became president under circumstances considered undemocratic by the Obama camp although he won the leadership post through an election.
Long-standing relations between the Obama folks and Egypt began to deteriorate after Sissi, then military chief, led the public movement to remove the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, who was backed by the Obama camp, from power.
The tensions between the two nations escalated after the Obama administration suspended the sale of certain weapons to Cairo in the wake of President Morsi’s removal.
In response, Egypt has reportedly reached out to China and Russia for weapons.
In late March of this year, President Obama decided to release the U.S. military aid to Egypt that had been suspended.
Nevertheless, Pittenger told Breitbart News that Sissi is still being denied certain military supplies and assistance to combat ISIS.
The congressman noted:
So what are we looking for? What is the problem here? Why don’t we provide full support? Egypt is a democratic state that is very pivotal for us in the Middle East…
We need to work with Sissi. He did agree to work with the U.S. Treasury Department on addressing the need to combat terrorism financing…
Sissi is looking for a stable country, a free country, an open country, a democratic country, but he has internal opposition such as the Muslim Brotherhood that we don’t seem to want to recognize.