A day after the Obama administration offered muted criticisms of the military-led Egyptian government over its bloody crackdown on protestors in Cairo, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham took the White House and Pentagon to task for not acting more forcefully to condemn the violence.
“The interim civilian government and security forces – backed up, unfortunately, by the military – are taking Egypt down a dark path, one that the United States cannot and should not travel with them,” the duo wrote in a joint statement on Friday.
With more than 500 people killed on Thursday and dozens more reported killed on Friday, there is mounting pressure on the Obama administration to exert what influence it can on the military and civilian leaders who ousted Mohammad Morsi on July 3, in what some Republican Senators on Capitol Hill have insisted was a military coup.
The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi was the first democratically-elected president of Egypt in decades.
Since the ouster, the Brotherhood and its supporters have taken to the streets of Cairo to protest the removal of the president. The government began the violent crackdown this week to try and break up protest camps around the sprawling capital.
In response to the continued unrest, president Obama has delayed the delivery of four F-16 fighters and called off US participation in Operation Bright Star, a 40 year-old biennial joint military exercise held in Egypt.
The moves have had no effect on the generals in charge in Cairo.
“We cannot be complicit in the mass slaughter of civilians,” McCain and Graham continued. “We urge the Obama Administration to suspend U.S. assistance to Egypt and make clear to the current leadership of the country what steps we believe are necessary to halt Egypt’s descent into civil conflict and ultimately to restore our assistance relationship, which has historically served U.S. national security interests.”
The Senators are joining their chamber-mate Sen. Rand Paul, who has been forcefully calling for the end of US military aid to Egypt for days. In an Aug. 15 statement, Paul called for an immediate halt to the $1.3 billion in military aid that Washington annually sends to Cairo.
Paul said that “the law is very clear when a coup d’état takes place, foreign aid must stop, regardless of the circumstances. With more than 500 dead and thousands more injured this week alone, chaos only continues to grow in Egypt. So Mr. President, stop skirting the issue, follow the law, and cancel all foreign aid to Egypt.”
A subgroup of the UN Human Rights Council known as the Coordination Committee also released a statement today calling on the Egyptian military “not to respond forcibly to new protests” that may occur over the next several days.
“We condemn any excessive use of force by the security forces and urge a full investigation into their actions,” the group said.