In hearings on Feb. 9-10, the House chairwoman warned of an Islamic
takeover of Egypt, Middle East Newsline reported. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen urged the administration against
supporting the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood in any government that
would follow President Hosni Mubarak.
"The Muslim Brotherhood had nothing to do with driving these protests,
and they and other extremists must not be allowed to hijack the movement
toward democracy and freedom in Egypt," Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said.
The Florida Republican said the administration failed to leverage
U.S. military and economic aid to support pro-democracy forces in Egypt or
Lebanon. Instead, the White House focused on what the chairwoman termed
"short-term, personality-based stability — stability that was never really
all that stable, as the events of recent weeks demonstrates."
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said Washington also failed to use its $750 million in
military aid to influence Lebanon. Instead, the administration was said to
have enabled Hizbullah, Iran and Syria to dictate events in Lebanon.
"Washington has also persisted in continuing to provide assistance to a
Lebanese government in which Hizbullah essentially had veto power," Ms.
Ros-Lehtinen said. "This included security assistance to the Lebanese armed
forces, despite longstanding concerns over whether such aid could directly
or indirectly benefit Hizbullah. Even now, when the Lebanese government has
been overthrown, the United States has still failed to indicate that it will
cut off assistance to a proxy government for Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah."
The criticism was issued as both Congress and U.S. officials have
assessed that Egypt could no longer be counted upon as a strategic ally. The
House chairwoman called on the administration to draft a strategic plan for
the Middle East to protect allies and counter Iran and Syria.
"Such criteria should include: renouncing violent extremism, upholding
the rule of law, and recognizing and enforcing Egypt's international
commitments, including its nonproliferation obligations and its peace
agreement with the Jewish state of Israel," Ms. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said.
"We face an emergency in Lebanon and Egypt that could spread to the broader
A key question was U.S. policy toward the Egyptian military. Ms. Ileana
suggested the transformation of U.S. military aid to civilian aid meant to
support democracy in Egypt.
"What is the administration's view on continuing security assistance to
Egypt for stability and compliance with its international commitments and
preparation for democratic transition, and simultaneously transferring
economic aid currently going to the Mubarak government to pro-democracy
groups for organizing and preparing for elections?" Ms. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen