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Ros-Lehtinen to call Obama team to testify on Egypt

Ros-Lehtinen to call Obama team to testify on Egypt


House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) will bring two top national security officials to Capitol Hill next week to testify on the administration’s policy concerning Egypt, and its implications for the escalating crisis there.

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy will testify next Thursday before the GOP-led committee. But before Ros-Lehtinen hears from the administration officials, she will first call upon two former Republican officials for their take on the upheaval in Egypt: Former NSC Middle East senior director Elliott Abrams and Lorne Craner, a former assistant secretary of State for democracy, human rights, and labor during President George W. Bush’s first term. Craner is now president of the International Republican Institute.

Ros-Lehtinen, who has already pledged to examine cutting aid to countries that don’t support U.S. interests, called this week for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to go further than his promise not to run for president again in September.

"Continuing with the existing timeline for elections is not going to help stabilize the situation in Egypt. It will only embolden the extremist elements and frustrate the Egyptian people, who seek peaceful, legitimate, democratic change," read a statement she released on Feb. 1. "Far-off promises of change won’t cut it after decades of waiting for political and economic reforms."

But Ros-Lehtinen might also use the hearings to publicize the argument that certain elements of the Egyptian opposition, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, might have be excluded from the new process.

"Further, opposition leaders must categorically reject the involvement of extremist elements who are trying to use this crisis to gain power, hijack Egypt’s future, and seriously damage Egypt’s relationship with the United States, Israel, and others," she said.

On Jan. 29, Ros-Lehtinen set out what she sees as the standards by which the Obama administration should judge opposition groups.

"The U.S. should learn from past mistakes and support a process which only includes candidates who meet basic standards for leaders of responsible nations: Candidates who have publicly renounced terrorism, uphold the rule of law, recognize Egypt’s international commitments including its nonproliferation obligations and its peace agreement with the Jewish State of Israel, and who ensure security and peace with its neighbors," she said in a statement.