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Lawmakers see Egypt's military as the best option for U.S.

Aug. 18, 2013 at 1:45 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Two key U.S. lawmakers said Sunday that supporting Egypt's military-backed government was a better choice in the long-run for stability in the Middle East.

Even with the abrupt removal of President Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian military was considered a more reliable partner and stabilizing force than Morsi and the Islamist-leaning Muslim Brotherhood, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Rep. Elliot Engel, D-N.Y., said on ABC's "This Week."

Corker, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the relative lack of leverage the United States held in Egypt justified Washington viewing the crisis with U.S. national interest in mind. "I think it's a time for us to recalibrate and look at what is our national interest," he said. "There is no question that we overestimated what our leverage was, and we've underestimated the leverage that Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates has had on this government."

Corker said the idea that Islamist extremists could become established in Sinai or access to the Suez Canal could be restricted were sobering considerations. He added that U.S. aid to Egypt should be reconsidered, but pointed out that most of the 2013 aid package had already been sent to Cairo.

Engel said that while it was disturbing the Egyptian military appeared to be ignoring U.S. appeals to end its crackdown, he did not believe they wanted to sever the longstanding relationship with Washington.

"We essentially have two choices in Egypt," said Engel, senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "And that's a military government, which hopefully will transition as quickly as possible to civilian government, or the Muslim Brotherhood. I don't think the Muslim Brotherhood is a choice."

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