GOP questions motive behind Egypt aid

Two prominent House conservatives asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a letter Thursday if her goal in sending more aid to Egypt is to help Islamists take over the country.

“Is it the Administration’s intent to enable the Muslim Brotherhood’s consolidation of power within Egypt?” wrote Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). “How would providing this assistance not enable their consolidation of power?”

The letter from the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the chairman of the House Republican Study Committee comes as the Obama administration has pledged a $1 billion aid package to help the country's transition to democracy after years of U.S.-backed authoritarian rule. Already, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations panel on foreign operations, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), has placed a hold on $450 million of that amount.

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This isn't the first time that House Republicans have suggested the State Department's Egypt policy may have an ulterior motive beyond supporting a government that legitimately won democratic elections. In June, five Republicans, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), wrote to the inspectors general of five federal agencies asking them to investigate Clinton aide Huma Abedin because her alleged family connection to the Brotherhood "raises serious questions about Department of State policies and activities that appear to be a result of influence operations conducted by individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood."

The new letter puts Clinton on notice that she needs to spell out exactly what the administration hopes to achieve with its aid to Egypt if it wants congressional support.

“Rewarding the actions of the current government with increased economic assistance, debt forgiveness, or enterprise funds without stringent conditions and tangible deliverables on the part of the Egyptian government would be a grave error,” the letter states. “As Egypt’s Islamist leadership increasingly takes control of the country, placing Muslim Brotherhood members as provincial governors and installing radical Islamists in the state’s top human rights body and state-controlled media, we are concerned for the future of both Egyptian minorities and secular, pro-democracy activists.”

The letter goes on to ask:

• What the administration's policy goals are with respect to Egypt;

• What political and economic conditions the administration is applying to this assistance;

• Whether the administration can provide a comprehensive analysis of the intended political and economic effects of this assistance;

• Whether the administration will fully fund secular, pro-democracy activists; and

• Whether U.S. assistance has been conditioned to the outcome of the trials of American, Egyptian and international non-governmental organization members.

“Until the Administration can provide adequate answers to the Congress on the issues of concern cited above,” it concludes, “you will encounter significant opposition to any economic assistance package to the Government of Egypt.”