Friday, February 17, 2012

US lawmaker calls for "punitive actions" against Egypt

Egyptian officials say US-funded groups fueling unrest in the country.

Source: Press TV

A key US Republican lawmaker has called for “punitive actions” against Egyptian officials as the tensions between Cairo and Washington over activities of US-sponsored groups in Egypt remain unabated.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the remarks on Thursday.

"The Egyptian government's actions cannot be taken lightly and warrant punitive actions against certain Egyptian officials, and reconsideration of US assistance to Egypt," Ros-Lehtinen said.

US-Egypt relations were frayed on December 29 after Egyptian authorities arrested 43 employees of US-funded nonprofit groups, including 20 Americans, accusing the groups of trying to foment protests against the country's military rulers and sow discord in the country.

One of those arrested was Sam LaHood, the son of the US transportation secretary.

However, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that adopting punitive measures against Egypt by cutting military aid, estimated around $1.3 billion in military aid annually, would backfire.

“When we use funding to separate ourselves from prior partners, nothing good comes of it," Dempsey told the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, which controls US aid to other countries.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Hassan, an Egyptian scholar has launched a campaign, urging his fellow countrymen to pay 10 pounds ($1.66) each to raise money for the government in response to US threats of holding aid to Egypt.

“The Egyptian people never accept to be insulted or humiliated ... This people won't kneel to anyone but God," Hassan said in a TV interview broadcast this week.

Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Faiza Abul Naga said on Thursday that the government had received 60 million pounds in donations so far.

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