Today, Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson said that after this week's tragic deaths in Libya, and violent protests that breached the defenses of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, continued American aid to Egypt must come with a guarantee of protection for American diplomatic facilities within the country.
"Nebraska would expect the Egyptian government to provide adequate security around embassies like ours," said Senator Nelson during a conversation with Ambassador Tawfik. "The Egyptian police were overwhelmed by the demonstrators, and we're lucky the violence wasn't more severe. Now is the time for President Morsi to take the necessary steps to shore up Egyptian defenses at the U.S. Embassy."
On Thursday, Nelson and Tawfik spoke about Wednesday evening's events in Cairo, when Egyptian protestors hurled stones at the U.S. Embassy, climbed into the compound and ripped down the American flag. Ambassador Tawfik communicated to Nelson that Egyptian security forces at first did not engage the large crowd of protestors because they did not want to aggravate the already-angry crowd. Only after the protestors breached the walls of the embassy compound did Egyptian security forces act.
"Egypt must be proactive to provide sufficient security for our embassy," Nelson said. "Though the steps that (Egyptian President) Morsi has taken after the attack are commendable, they were part of a reactive effort, after the damage had been done. Egyptian security forces have to take preventative measures to avoid this sort of incident in the future."
Following the assault on the U.S. Embassy, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi presided over the arrests of several individuals involved with the event, the re-securing of the embassy, and an effort to keep demonstrators contained.
In May of this year, Senator Nelson was one of several American government officials in Egypt following the Egyptian presidential election. During Senator Nelson's time in Egypt, he toured the American Embassy in Cairo that was victim of this week's attack, and spoke with numerous government ministers, including several heads of defense.
"Having just been to Egypt, and having been protected in-part by Egyptian security forces during my time there, this issue of American diplomats so easily being reached by demonstrators is one of great concern to me and something not to be taken lightly," said Senator Nelson. "While it is essential to keep strong ties with young democracies in the Middle East, we need to make it clear that we expect our people to be safe over there. That isn't too much to ask."