No Mubarak-Style Condemnation for Morsi Power Grab from Washington
“Given Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, there’s only one way to get weapons into Gaza, and that is through Egypt,” said the bipartisan letter led by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). “In order for the ceasefire to hold, it is imperative that your government bolster its efforts to halt all weapons smuggling taking place via both overland and underground routes.”
The senators wrote that they're "deeply disturbed" by statements from Hamas and Iranian leaders that Tehran is restocking the terror operation in Gaza, including with long-range Fajr-5 rockets.
“In the interest of peace and security, Egypt should take immediate and decisive action to halt such smuggling,” they continued. “This is all the more important in light of the potential easing of restrictions on the movement of people and goods through Gaza border crossings as a condition of the ceasefire you helped to broker. Preventing Hamas from re-arming is just one step in helping to prevent violence from erupting again.”
Signing the letter were Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga..), John Tester (D-Mont.) Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
Morsi has called for a referendum on the constitution Dec. 15. Two days later, he's rumored to be coming to Washington -- something the State Department would not confirm today.
"I don’t have anything to announce one way or the other," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said when pressed on the rumor at today's press briefing.
"We are where we were yesterday, that it’s very important now that the Egyptian people feel that the process to ratify and approve this constitution is credible," he said.
Former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) mirrored the likely attitude of the administration on Fox News Sunday, when he said that he believes "when push comes to shove" the Muslim Brotherhood is still a workable partner.
"When they first came to power, there were calls to ban alcohol. They didn't do it. Why? They cared about tourist dollars. There was a proposal to segregate beaches, men and women, and to regulate what women could wear. Didn't do it because they were concerned about the economic realities. They need Western aid. In the Gaza conflict, they've behaved responsibly and tried to bring things to a conclusion," Bayh said.
"So there is evidence that, while they may be throwing some bones to their most fervent supporters in terms of constitutional language, and that is concerning, at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, they may behave more pragmatically."
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on CNN today "you've got to be extremely worried when you see instability affecting Egypt."
"These are the birth pains of proper democracy, in some ways, but this struggle is immensely important, because you -- obviously what is important in these countries where they've moved to a democratic system is that there is a clear understanding, if you like, that democracy is not just a way of voting, it's a way of thinking," Blair said. "And part of that way of thinking is that you've got to protect minorities. You've got to -- I mean, democracy doesn't function unless it is accompanied by an open mind."