Is Morsi a Partner or Problem? Yes, Says Armed Services Chairman
When asked this morning on NBC's Meet the Press whether Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is a partner of the United States or a problem, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee simply responded "yes."
"Some of both," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).
Protests erupted in Egypt after the first post-Arab Spring president issued sweeping edicts that give him power over all oversight bodies and over the judiciary branch.
Egypt's stock market index plunged nearly 10 percent today as police fired tear gas at protesters accusing Morsi of a blatant power grab, the Associated Press reported.
"But even though there's great concern, I think we have to be very cautious," Levin said. "We don't obviously want to see a democratically- elected autocrat take the place of an undemocratically-elected dictator which was the case before that. On the other hand, there are some real pluses that are possible here: If Egypt takes some real responsibility for making the ceasefire work, we'll stop those missiles from going through those tunnels into Gaza and they seem to be moving in that direction."
The senator said President Obama needs to express his concerns to Morsi, saying "we want this change to be not just be democratic but to also be supportive of stability and also to be protecting minorities and human rights in Egypt."
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, said "could be headed" toward an Islamist state via coup.
"What should the United States of America do? They should be saying this is unacceptable," he said. "We thank Mr. Morsi for his efforts in brokering a cease-fire, which is, by the way, incredibly fragile but is not what is acceptable. This is not what the United States and American taxpayers expect and our dollars will be directly related to the progress towards democracy, which you promised the people of Egypt, when your party and you were elected president."
"Renounce the statement, and the move that he just made. Allow the judiciary to function," McCain suggested. "If the judiciary is flawed in some way, then, that's an illness that can be cured over time. But, absolutely, to assume this kind of power is unacceptable to the United States of America and, then, we can outline what actions might be taken. But, first, condemn it."
The last communication with Morsi released by the White House was Wednesday, when Obama called the Egyptian leader to thank him "for his efforts to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and for his personal leadership in negotiating a ceasefire proposal."
"President Obama reaffirmed the close partnership between the United States and Egypt, and welcomed President Morsi's commitment to regional security," the White House said.