Two US senators sent by the White House this month to help mediate Egypt's crisis Sunday insisted the US must cut aid to Egypt if Washington is to maintain any credibility in the Middle East and prevent Egypt from becoming a failed state, dpa reported.
Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham, in Sunday TV talk shows, warned that Egypt under its military government was headed to becoming another Algeria, which saw a decade-long Islamist insurgency from 1991, if it continues with its bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
"We're headed for Algeria. The Brotherhood will go underground. Al-Qaeda will come to their aid, and you're going to have an armed insurgency, not protesters, on your hands in the next 60 to 90 days," Graham said.
He warned there would be a "failed state in Egypt."
More than 800 people, including 70 policemen, have been killed in violence in Egypt since Wednesday, according to government figures, raising global fears that the country could slide into civil war.
The Obama administration had warned that US military aid would be cut off if a coup occurred in Egypt, but has stopped short of referring to the military takeover as a coup. Secretary of State John Kerry has called the takeover an expression of popular will.
"We have no credibility. We do have influence, but when you don't use that influence, then you do not have the influence," McCain told CNN.
US President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is under pressure from Israel and other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to continue supporting the military government as a bastion against a growing militant Islamist threat in Egypt.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful lobby in Washington, reportedly staved off an effort in the US Senate to block military aid, sending a letter to senators on July 31 saying the move "could increase instability in Egypt and undermine important US interests and negatively impact our Israeli ally," according to The New York Times on Sunday.
The Senate defeated the measure 86 to 13 later that day.
Graham described his contacts in early August with the interim government - Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, who engineered the ouster of democratically elected Mohammed Morsi, and Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi - to The New York Times, saying he and McCain were brushed off in their suggestion that the government release two Brotherhood prisoners as a show of goodwill.
As an equal gesture, it was hoped the Muslim Brotherhood would thin down their protests against Morsi's ouster.
"You could tell people were itching for a fight," Graham was quoted as saying. General al-Sissi seemed "a little bit intoxicated by power."
As a major guarantor of Middle East stability, the US for decades has supported the government in Egypt to the tune of about 1.6 billion dollars a year that goes mostly to the military. Other countries in the region reportedly send much more than that, making the US aid more a symbolic support than an essential pillar.
Obama has already cancelled upcoming joint military exercises and postponed the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets. The next step could be stopping a September delivery of new Apache AH-64D aircraft, The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing an unnamed official.
European Union foreign ministers could be debating this coming week a region-wide clampdown on military deliveries to Egypt.
Graham argued that Kerry's remarks that the Egyptian military was restoring democracy was taken the wrong way by the military government, which promptly started jailing all the leaders of the former government.
"That was a signal to me that they weren't interested in a transition," he said. "They were trying to grab power."
"Somebody needs to look al-Sissi in the eye and say, 'You're going to destroy Egypt ... You're going to create an insurgency for generations to come. Turn around, general, before it's too late.'"
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