Dear Mr. Rodgers,
Thank you for contacting me regarding recent events in Egypt. I appreciate hearing from you on this very important issue.
In January of 2011 hundreds of thousands of Egyptians frustrated with corrupt governance and a stagnant economy took to the streets to demand political change. On February 11, 2011, after nearly a month of popular and largely peaceful protests, President Hosni Mubarak announced that he would leave office. After a year and a half of political transition in the wake of the revolution, Egyptians elected a new president, Muhammad Morsi. After his election this past June, President Morsi resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's dominant Islamist organization, and pledged to form a government in which all major factions in Egyptian politics would be represented.
As you may know, prior to Mr. Morsi's election in June, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) ruled Egypt by decree, angering many Egyptians who supported a faster transition to civilian government. After taking office, President Morsi dismissed Egypt's long-time defense minister, Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, as well as other military officers. Mr. Morsi also reversed a SCAF decree that weakened the executive authorities of the president, giving him interim legislative powers until the election of a new parliament following the ratification of a new constitution. After being approved by public referendum, President Morsi signed the constitution into law on December 26, 2012. Protests again flared in opposition to his administration in the month following ratification, resulting in President Morsi declaring a new state of emergency on January 27, 2013.
Egypt has been an important U.S. ally in the Middle East for more than 30 years since signing a peace treaty with Israel. As such, it also has been a significant recipient of U.S. foreign assistance. In fiscal year (FY) 2011 Egypt received $1.5 billion in military and economic assistance from the U.S. This assistance was conditioned on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's certification that the Egyptian government supported the transition to a civilian government, including implementation of policies to protect freedom of expression, religion, association, and due process of law. However, Secretary Clinton waived this requirement on March 23, 2012. A State Department spokesperson said that "the secretary's decision to waive is also designed to demonstrate our strong support for Egypt's enduring role as a security partner and a leader in promoting regional stability and peace."
Related to this issue, on January 31, 2013, Senator Rand Paul (KY) introduced Senate Amendment 9, which would prohibit the sale or delivery of certain types of military equipment to Egypt including F-16 aircraft and M1 tanks. The restrictions in the amendment would have undermined our existing peace treaty with Egypt, weakened our counterterrorism efforts in the region and endangered U.S. commitments to the security of Israel. The amendment was defeated 79-19 with my vote against the measure.
A peaceful and prosperous Egypt is in the best interests of the United States and the region. Please be assured that I will continue to monitor Egypt's transition process, and will keep your thoughts in mind should I have the opportunity to vote on any legislation regarding Egypt in the Senate.