Ayotte: 'I don't see how we can continue aid' to Egypt

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Last week saw security forces in Egypt clash with Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated protesters upset with the military ouster of democratically-elected president Mohammed Morsi, who was removed from office amid demonstrations condemning his rule as extremist. More than 600 Egyptians have died in the violence, and the government has instituted a state of emergency.

But Ayotte said Sunday that the best way to marginalize the Muslim Brotherhood was to return to democracy as quickly as possible.

"The best way to marginalize the Muslim Brotherhood is in the ballot box, not through arrests and killing people," she said. "In fact, you're just going to encourage them to martyrdom, rather than just defeating them at the ballot box. They blew it when they were governing. And if we go to a democratic process, if the military does that, rather than taking this over in the power grab they're involved in right now, then the Muslim Brotherhood can be defeated through democratic process."

Ayotte also criticized President Obama for not saying he would cut off aid during a speech on the situation he gave Thursday in Martha's Vineyard. The president announced then that the United States would cancel joint military exercises planned for later this year, but did not say he would cut off the $1.3 billion in annual funding.

"I think he fell short when he really didn't come out and call out the real question on the suspension of aid, because that is the real influence that we have with Egypt," Ayotte said. "So I thought that he could have been stronger on that, coming very clearly against the violence and saying, "We're going to suspend aid until you restore democracy."

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who also sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in the same interview that aid should be suspended, but that President Obama should retain "flexibility" to "engage" the Egyptian government.

"The acts of the last few days by the Egyptian military are completely unconscionable and I do believe we have to change our aid," Reed said. "I think also we have to have included in the legislation a national security waiver because we have to give the president not only the responsibility to deal with the government of Egypt but also flexibility."