Tags: ros | lehtinen | obama | egypt

Ros-Lehtinen to Newsmax: Obama 'Bet on Wrong Folks' in Egypt

Wednesday, 03 Jul 2013 09:01 PM

By Todd Beamon and John Bachman

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The military coup in Egypt shows that “the Obama administration has thoroughly failed when it comes to handling the post-Arab Spring revolution,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tells Newsmax TV.

“They've bet on the wrong folks time and time again,” the Florida Republican tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “Many of us in Congress were saying: ‘Guys, look at the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a group that's going to take over — and it's not going to be what you think.’”

Story continues below video.



On Wednesday, Egyptian Army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi announced that President Mohammed Morsi had been removed and was replaced with the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court. He also suspended the Islamist-backed constitution and called for early presidential elections.

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Morsi’s ouster as the nation’s first elected leader comes two years after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in another popular uprising.

The Arab world's most populous nation has been in turmoil since the fall of Mubarak as Arab Spring uprisings took hold in early 2011, arousing concern among allies in the West and in Israel, with which Egypt has a 1979 peace treaty.

First elected to the House in 1989, Ros-Lehtinen is the senior woman Republican in the lower chamber. She was chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and currently is chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia.

“The Obama administration is adrift when it comes to policy in the Middle East or North Africa,” she tells Newsmax. “Morsi came in with the Muslim Brotherhood. What does that mean?

“They were anti-Christian, anti-minority, anti-women — and one year after Morsi won in ‘his election’ and all of the millions of dollars that the Obama administration badly wasted in this government, the people have risen up and said: ‘No, you have failed us. We want you out. We want to try again.’”

The United States sends $1.5 billion annually in military and economic assistance to Egypt.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the State Department and Foreign Operations, said on Wednesday that federal law prohibits aid being provided when a democratically elected government is deposed by military coup or decree.

The Egyptian support would be reconsidered in upcoming budget talks, Leahy said.

But the issue has long been settled, as far as Ros-Lehtinen is concerned.

“It is way past time to suspend the aid,” she tells Newsmax. “Why are we giving money to theocratic regimes or to autocratic regimes? It's not like we don’t have a lot of problems here at home. Let's use the money wisely. Let's leverage it so we can help countries become stronger and freer and more democratic, which is in our national-security interest.

“Giving money to someone who's a thug and wishing and hoping and praying that they're going to turn into a Jeffersonian Democrat is wrongheaded. It’s foolish and it's never worked — and it's proven again with Egypt,” she says.

When she chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ros-Lehtinen tells Newsmax that she put holds on aid to Egypt and similar rogue nations, but that the Obama White House always “went over our heads” to obtain the assistance.

She frets whenever President Barack Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry visit foreign nations, too.

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“They give money away as if they were Santa Claus, giving people millions of millions of dollars,” Ros-Lehtinen says. “We need transparency. We need accountability. We need to see that the money that we're using to help us build friendships and keep our country strong is a really effective way of using American taxpayer dollars.”

Because the Obama administration backed the deposed president, it became clear to the Egyptian people whose side the United States was on, Ros-Lehtinen says.

“We gave Morsi a lot of money. We just threw that money down a rabbit hole. It's wasted. They know that the U.S. government was standing firmly with Morsi — and look what the Egyptian people did? They rose up.

“Now, it doesn't mean that all the folks demonstrating there are good guys,” she cautions. “There are going to be a lot of hot-headed factions there, but it's important for the United States to be cautious to not do anything that will exacerbate the violence.

“This could lead to a very bloody road and what the Egyptian people want it to live in freedom and democracy,” Ros-Lehtinen tells Newsmax. “Who does not want to live in freedom? That's everybody's dream — and it's a dream that should be fulfilled for all oppressed people throughout the globe.”



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