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Hearing of the House Subcommittee Middle East and North Africa of the Foreign Affairs Committee - Demonstrations in Tahrir Square: Two Years Later, What Has Changed?


Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement today at a Subcommittee hearing titled "Demonstrations in Tahrir Square: Two Years Later, What Has Changed?."

Opening statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

"Before I begin my remarks, I would like to convey my deepest condolences to the families of the nearly 20 tourists killed and others injured in the horrific hot air balloon accident in Egypt today.

Our thoughts and prayers are with their families.

Two years ago, on January 25th, Egyptians were poised to cast off the yoke of oppression and maybe, just maybe, bring an end to authoritarian rule in Egypt.

The hopes of the Egyptian people, and those of many other nations across the globe -- including here in the United States -- would be that Egypt would finally be able to transition to democratic rule.

Then in June 2012 -- Mohammed Morsi and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood came to power.

Hopes for a free and democratic society in Egypt quickly eroded into fears that the new Muslim Brotherhood-led government would turn on its people.

Last November, Morsi took unilateral action to consolidate his power by issuing a decree that he would be immune from judicial challenge while also orchestrating a draft constitution that imposes strict Islamist practices.

This new constitution was hastily put together after opposition parties and religious and ethnic minority groups abandoned the discussions over their objections to the Islamic dominated proceedings.

Instead, the Muslim Brotherhood-led government was able to integrate sharia law into the constitution, while leaving out crucial protections for ethnic and religious minorities.

In addition, there have been reports of unprecedented crackdown on Egyptians trying to express their freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.

Earlier this month, a live TV broadcast caught Morsi's police agents brutally beating, stripping and dragging an Egyptian civilian, Hamada Saber, during protests against the regime in Cairo.

Dozens of protesters have died or have been injured in clashes with the Morsi regime, yet this has not deterred Morsi, nor has it affected the Obama Administration's stance on Egypt.

Since the two year anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution, Egyptians have rushed to Tahrir Square and to the streets chanting the same slogans they used to oust Mubarak.

In their eyes, this revolution is not over; their objectives have not yet been reached as they thirst for democracy and protections of their human rights.

Nevertheless, the U.S. Administration continues to double down on its failed Egypt policy and has done nothing to prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars, F-16 fighter jets, tanks, and other support to be sent to the regime of Morsi.

Much attention has justifiably been given to the Benghazi attacks on September 11, but many may forget that our embassy in Cairo was also attacked on the same date.

During this attack, the Egyptian government failed to provide the necessary security support needed to prevent the protestors from breaching the walls of our Embassy.

As our nation is set to face dramatic economic cuts this week due to sequestration, we should not be providing funds without conditions to the Muslim Brotherhood led-government that is not conforming to democratic principles and is not on the right path to fulfill its obligations to the international community, and to its own citizens.

As the Obama Administration seeks to send hundreds of millions in U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Morsi government, we need to re-examine our aid package and use it as leverage to promote true democratic reforms in Egypt.

To accomplish that, I re-introduced H.R. 416 -- the Egypt Accountability and Democracy Promotion Act.

This bill conditions our security and economic assistance to Egypt in order to advance U.S. national security interests by ensuring that Egypt protects freedom and human rights, the rule of law, civil society organizations, and upholds the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.

During Morsi's tenure:

Video surfaced showing Morsi describing Jews as [QUOTE] bloodsuckers and descendants of apes and pigs [END QUOTE];
Morsi has yet to demonstrate his willingness and ability to properly secure the Sinai; and
Morsi has rolled out the red carpet to Ahmadinejad in an attempt to reestablish ties with Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, that actively seeks the destruction of our closest friend and ally, the democratic Jewish State of Israel.
We must recognize the Morsi government is unstable, and not yet proven worthy of unabated economic and military support."

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