Citing America's lack of action in the crisis in Egypt, Sen. John McCain said Sunday the U.S. has lost credibility with the people there and predicted a harsh future for the embattled country.
"I can see a long period of unrest in Egypt, and repression," the Arizona Republican said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
McCain, who visited Egypt with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina a week ago at the request of President Barack Obama, said he wanted to give the military who ousted elected president Mohammed Morsi a chance to "do the right thing."
But, McCain said, "it was pretty clear, to say the least, that they have not only not changed, but they have orchestrated massacres."
McCain also pushed for letting the Muslim Brotherhood lose at the ballot box rather than oppressing them and turning their members into martyrs. If Egypt outlaws the Muslim Brotherhood, he said, "You're going to see insurgency all over Egypt."
Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Corker said on Sunday that the United States has overestimated its leverage in Egypt while underestimating the influence of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the besieged, bloodshed-filled country,
"This whole discussion has been a little bit naive and, to me, very shallow," the Tennessee Republican said on ABC's "This Week." "The fact is that we need to be looking at what is our national interest. And is it in our national interest to have jihadists in northeastern Sinai that maybe threaten the security of Tennesseans and Americans?"
Corker initially called for the suspension of future aid to the country, which has seen hundreds murdered in the streets of Cairo last week, but then backpedaled and said U.S. aid needs to be tiered in a way that benefits American interests, specifically with respect to the Suez Canal.
"I don't want to cut off our relations, and I do expect that we will continue to have aid forthcoming in a way that really directly focuses on our national interests," Corker said. "I just think we need to tier it."
He said Congress and the White House need "to recalibrate."
"I hope this debate will shift," Corker said. "It will shift to a place where we're pushing obviously for the government to act responsibly. I condemn what's happened with the military, but I also condemn what, in essence, was a political coup by the Muslim Brotherhood. There still are things within Egypt that are very much in our national interest, and we need to keep the lines of communication open."
New York Rep. Eliot Engel, who appeared with Corker on the program, said suspending aid to Egypt is premature.
"Egypt's an important country, and I think we have to be very, very careful before we willy-nilly just cut off aid," Engel said. "While it may feel good to say, 'OK, just cut them loose, they're not listening to us, they're cracking down and murdering people,' which is horrific, I hope that behind-the-scenes diplomacy will prevail. I think severing aid is not the right thing to do right now."
McCain said the Egyptian generals took U.S. support as a "green light" to do whatever they wanted.
McCain repeated his criticism of Obama, saying the administration warned the generals that U.S. law required military aid to be cut off if they took over by a coup. When the military ousted Morsi after a year in office, the White House refused to define the action as a coup, allowing aid to continue.
Other expectations, such as Egypt releasing two leaders of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood and a move forward with a new Constitution and elections, never happened, McCain said.
"With Apache helicopters flying overhead, nothing is more symbolic of the United States of America siding with the generals," McCain said.
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