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tv   Former State Department Officials Testify on U.S. Humanitarian Aid in Egypt  CSPAN  April 26, 2017 1:42am-3:06am EDT

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>> valerie and kids like her give me hope for american agriculture. thank you. okay. >> mr. secretary. >> thank you all. coming up on c-span 3 a hearing on u.s./egypt relations and aid to that country. in a town hall bheegt congressman matthew cart wright of pen. after that, global nationalism on elections. larlt a look at medical research and patient treatment options. next a hearing on u.s./egypt relations and the millions given
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to that country annually. three former state department officials testified before the senate appropriation subcommittee on state foreign relations and programs. this is 90 minutes. >> the hearing will come to order. we have a lot of our democrat colleagues are in transit. we'll get started. senator leahy is going to be a little late but as soon as he arrived we'll let him speak. the hearing today is on united states assistance for egypt. i'd like to welcome or witnesses, elliot abrams, senior fellow for middle eastern studies has been in the government in a variety of roles back to the reagan administration. michelle dunne, director senior fellow middle east program, carngy endowment for peace.
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i'll go ahead and make a brief opening statement 57d we'll hear from our witnesses. the reason i have this hearing is egypt's important, it's important enough for us to care about the relationship to try to make sure the relationship's going in the right direction, and it's imperative for me that egypt become successful because it such an important playing in the reeng. we provide hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the egyptian government and the egyptian people. i want to make sure it's a good investment and i want to understand what we're investigating in. the one thing i would say about egypt on the security front they're doing things in egypt that we haven't done in a while. they're helping with hamas in a historic fashion. their economy is lacktion and i really worry bay consolidation of power in a way that's basically undemocrat.
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i'm not asking egypt to become america, i want egicht egypt to become the best that it can be. and millions of people went to the streets ewes years ago to protest, some people gave their lives. marci was a result of that protest. clared air made that he overplayed his hand. i want the president to be successful, i appreciate his partnership on the security front, but for the american taxpayer, we need to highlight what we're investing in and try to use our money to bring about outcomes that will stabilize not only egypt but the region. it is a large country with a unique history and i want nothing but success for the egyptian people. and the purpose of this hearing today is to inform the congress about the good, the bad, and the ugly. and unfortunately, it's all three. and we need to try to use our money in the most productive
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fashion to help egypt, but it's not time for egypt to help us when it comes to helping them. with that, we'll start with ms. dunne. >> chairman graham, subcommittee members, thank you very much for this opportunity to address you. the problem for the united states in assisting egypt is precisely this. how can the united states best support an important country and a long-time regional ally when its government adopts policies that promise chronic instability? the united states has an interest in supporting a stable egypt, an egypt that's at peace with its neighbors and also at peace with itself. but while president ceci has a troubled region, the country season struggling and i'm afraid it could be headed for unrest within a few years. now, to be fair, some the
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problems in egypt have roots that go back well before ceci came to power. they've got a rapidly growing population, they have a history of indigenous extremist groups, they have an enormous bureau rock yassy but there are also newer problems that he has caused and acc zagger baited which made the country for polarized and poorer than it was before. we're meeting today on what is a public holiday in egypt. sinai liberation day. and unfortunately in the last few days some very deeply troulg information has been coming out showing the likelihood of the egyptian army carrying out extra judicial killings of terrorist suspects in the sinai. perhaps using vehicles assisted
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and provide by the united states. and this highlights the problem i'm talking about. egypt does face a serious threat from terrorism but the unprecedented human rights abuses and political repression practiced by the government since 2013 is fanning the flames rather than putting them out. and the united states at this point it does not really have a way to ensure that our assistance is not making the pr problem worse instead of better. i'm going to use my time to focus on the economic situation because i think that doesn't get enough attention. because in general, in the united states president ceci is getting good marks on his economic policies. interests a positive side to what he's doing on the economy, but there's also a very serious problem. in the first few months of 2017, the misery index, which is the rate of annual inflation plus unemployment for egyptians has been about 45%.
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core inflation has been between 30 and 33%. unemployment, according to official statistics is about 2012.5%, and most experts think that is really an underrepresentation. for young people, unploimd employment averages about 30%. for young women it is about 50%. so for young egyptians, and those are the most likely ones to cause unrest, the misery index ranges from 60% to more than 80% in the is clearly an unlivable situation. despite protest laws, there's been a significant increase in spontaneous protests related to economic grievances in the past year. now, i said ceci has gotten good marks on his economic policies, and that's because he's taken a couple of important steps on the fiscal side. he floated the egyptian currency, had is the main reason for the very high inflation
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right now. that was something that needed to be done. he's gut cut back energy subsidies partially and instituted a value-added tax. and he did these things in order to get an imf loan which he has about the golten for $12 billion over three years. but there's another side in which his economic policies are really not helping egypt with its economic problems at all, and that is when it comes to generating jobs, creating the conditions in the egyptian economy for jobs. there are 94 million egyptians, and right now there are at least 600,000 new egyptians coming on to the labor market every year. but the economy doesn't generate anywhere near enough jobs for them, and that number's only going to go up. right now there are 1 million new egyptians every six months. so two million new a year skou see how the people coming into the labor force are going to be going up. and despite lip service from
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ceci about creating jobs and so forth, it's simly not the case that his economic policies are aimed toward that. and they're also not aimed toward developing the labor force, which is a major issue in egypt that even the jobs that are being created sometimes go begging because egyptians don't have the skills, especially if they come out of the public education system, they don't have the skills that are needed for those jobs. you know, unfortunately, look, a world bank report in 2014 said it clearly. economic policies in egypt are not focused on promoting the emergence of fast-growing, high productivity-private-sector companies that would again rate jobs. instead, they have worked to preserve insider privileges leading to growth in sectors that are not labor intensive. this what's happening in egypt.
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for a long time economic policies have been skewed toward protecting the privileges of the few, the cronies of the regime. if in the seesy era it's fewer than that. they're for the benefits of his own constituency, the military itself. we're seeing a real change in military, laws, et cetera, that are allowing the military, rather than the private sector, to take up more and more economic activity. that's what's behind these mega construction projects that ceci has been carrying out. the sue easy canal passage, the new capital he's building in the desert because this is how they know how to make money by building things. let me end with a few people e recommendations. i think the united states with its assistance should set an example of wise investment human
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splent and in education and not to give budget support in the form of cash transfers and other things that will disappear quickly without any benefit. i would like to submit mr. chair, a -- some written testimony in which i have more recommendations for foreign military financing, but let me just say briefly before the united states extends more, we really need to investigate these reports of human rights abuses and how the united states can take foreign military assistance to egypt off auto pilot and look at what we can really do to help and not to contribute to a worse situation in the country. thank you very much. >> mr. abrams. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it's an honor to appear here today and i hope i can insert the full statement for the record. there's a remarkable similarity between the structure of our aid to egypt and the structure of
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the egyptian military and its activities. and that is that both were really established decades ago and both need to be rethought. i want to talk about the security sector today. our aid to egypt had not been very high and then lept up after this visit to jerusalem and the camp david accord, that's 1978. that's 40 years ago. middle east has changed and egypt's role in the middle east has changed in that period. the egypt in that period was really the most flew [ chanting ] chal arab country and it's submission on everything was of significance to us. but that's no longer true. egypt has no role to the conflict in yemen or in iraq or in syria, nor really on the israeli pal sinnian conflict itself. egypt's weight in the region has really declined. now, we obviously want to
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achieve as you said mr. chairman a stable egypt, democrat egypt, an egypt that can deal with the terrorist threat that it does face, that can protect its borders. we want to help egypt protect the human rights of all egyptians. but i'm always remind of a conversation i had decades ago with the lake tom lan tose who was a great champion of human rights. and i was in the bush administrationa the. point about 2010 e ten years ago talking to aid to egypt and he said to me, let me ask you a question. do you really think egypt needs more tanks or more schools? and i think it is a question we continue to have to ask ourselves. let's look at the egyptian military. our goals, probably the key goal in egypt today on the security side is to fight terrorism. but the egyptian military remains a force designed to
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conduct conventional warfare and, indeed, to conduct conventional warfare against israel. that's what they exercise for. another war with israel, as an israeli analyst put it last year, quote, the egyptian military is essentially still modeled to refight the 1973 war. closed quote. stratford fut this way. while the extent chal threat from conventional foreign mill tears has waned in recent years, the new and unconventional dangers of insur against sies haveries tone take its place. egypt's large and i flexible conventional forces which are better suited to guard against foreign incursion may not be as capable of addressing the country's current security problems. the egyptian military's spending huge amounts of money enhancing their conventional capability. crs reported that in february,
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2015, they purchased 24 multiroll fighters, a frig get and missiles from france. that was a deal worth nearly $6 billion. 2014 they got for -- they bought four naval core vets from france tlar was 1,000,000,350 million. fall of 2015, two helicopters from france. large purchases from russia. how do purchases like an antiballistic missile system from russia and advanced combat jets combat terrorist groups like isis? how do submarines? yet egypt just last week received the first of four german made attack submarines total cost 1.4 billion euros. there are other problems with the arms aid to egypt, there was a report last march entitled u.s. government should strengthen and use monitoring
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and human rights vetting for egypt. they're not doing all the vetting that they should be doing. turn to the approach to terrorism. it's just not succeeding the. the tactics of the egyptian government appear to be following just as the terrorist attacks have become routine so too have heavy-handed egyptian responses resulting in civilian casualties. michelle mentioned this video that just surfaced. an anal sis has only increased local anger against the military, that's in sinai. egyptian poll sill has, quote, shifted some sympathy from the military to the militants who are increasingly seen as a way to take revenge. that's sinai. i think actually that the egyptian handling of this is
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creating jihad did is. i mean, if you take 60,000 political prisoners and that's the number that there are in egypt, people that have not committed acts of violence, beat them up, toss them into prison, keep them there for years, incarcerate them with real jihaddies, and what cups out at the end of that process is more jihaddies. that's what's happening in egyptian prisons. recent new york times article interviewed a man who said many of the prisoners he met were from the brothers neighborhood. but he watched his sel cell mates grow hardened in prison. they were imprisoned without clear charges or trial dates created human bombs. npr recently had a story about a journal wloift was jailed who said in jail they become isis.
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this is a common story. it is the story that produced this man who was radicalized in an egyptian prison. i think it is time to review the tactics of the gimgs military against terrorism and to review the nature of our aid so that it is targeted toward fighting terrorism and not towards sustaining this conventional military that really has no significant use today. thank you. >> mr. melonnous sky. >> thank you, senator graham, members of the committee. let me -- i want to start by echoing a point that elliot abrams made because i think the overarching question here is what are our interests? what are our expectations with respect to our relationship with -- with egypt and what do we actually get for -- for this
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investment? the aid program, the relationship it's been based on a long-standing assumption that egypt is an important player in the region and with that assumption comes another that our long-term interest and better governments respect for human rights sometimes comes into conflict with our immediate national security interests. we certainly in the obama administration operated on the assumption that there was a lot that egypt could do for regional security and for us and we tried again and again and again to engage them on a variety of common interests. and i would say the reality is we were frustrated in the vast majority of cases, more and more it looked to us that egypt is becoming a country that sucks up aid, a lot more from the gulf states than from us, as you
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know. while contributing very, very little to regional security and treating the aid as an entitlement that simply must continue and continue and continue. about the only country -- well, there's a long-standing egyptian commitment not to tear up the treaty with israel, i guess that's one thing that we get. at this point, in the history of the israeli-egyptian relationship i would say that's something that sustains itself because it's very much in egypt's interest it's not something they do for us. in libya their influence has been largely negative. after receiving $70 billion of american assistance over the years, i'm sure you've noticed that there's not a single egyptian f sixteens in the skies over raqqa or he ugs in the iceal fight. they are engaged with the iceal in sinai, but in ways that
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probably make the problem steadily worse rather than better. and this video that has already been mentioned a couple of times i think in addition to showing something gruesome also shows just how -- just how counterproductive the tactics are. this is basically a window into a strategy in which young men who may or even may not be members of isis are rounded up, executed in cold blood and then passed off as casualties in battlefield fights so the army can look good. we know from history that's a way to lose a fight like this, not to win. i think almost any observer of the ceci government would agree that over the last two or three years the primary priority of the egyptian military and of general ceci has not been to fight terrorism or to improve governance, it has been to make
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sure that what happened in 2011, that something like that can never, ever, ever happen again in egypt and that the power. military over the country's politics and economics is not challenged again. and as a result, they have concentrated as much on persecuting their political opponents, peaceful protesters, independent ngos, the very people in the country who are most likely to despise jihadism as it has on hunting down terrorists. so we know some of the people in the country from the 2011 period are still in jail, tens of thousands of others behind bars for mog more than having attended a demonstration or being members of a political party. a lot of these folks lang kwish for years in pretrial detention like the american citizen did. many are subject to the most brutal forms of torture. read, if you have the stomach for it, the coroner's report on
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the death of the -- that young italian student who disappeared in cairo last year, and you'll have a sense of the sa diftic treatment that egyptian experience at the hands of their security agencies. the top officials of those agencies know perfectly well what goes on and they do nothing to stop it. one of the most notorious places of egypt is the headquarters of the national security agency, the successor to the old secret police right in downtown cairo near the square. meanwhile, crack down on ngos has intensified. the new ngo law makes it illegal for civil societies to function unless they get permission for everything they do from the gofrm. we've had a steady presence
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of -- of preposterous, ridiculous anti-american propaganda in the state media. so the same government that comes up here and lobbies for less restrictions on assistance in the name of better relations with egypt, back home in egypt treats anybody who seeks to get support and partnership from the united states as a criminal. what should we do in light of all these problems? well, i think we have to have realistic expectations. egypt has been experiencing this tur mail for a long time, only egyptians can resolve this. it's probably going to take a lot longer for that to happen. i don't think more positive engagement is going to work very well, nor i do think that more quid pro quo slap on the wrist condition at is going to work all that well. but throw it may be hard to
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change the way the egyptian government treats its own people, one recommendation i'd have is that we should demand that it change the way it treats ours. we should have zero tolerance for the treatment of american citizens, for the persecution, the persecution of individual or ngos for association with americans. i'll say this half tongue and cheek, you can call this an american first human rights policy for egypt. these are things we can demand and they will respect it if we demand them. number two, avoid complicity in these abuses. enforce the leahy law when there are serious violations. be very, very wary i would encourage you all of any proposal to try to strength he, intensify, deepen counterterrorism and intelligence sharing partnerships with the security agencies that are engaged in these abuses.
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they will abuse the partnerships in addition to the people. third, avoid reinforcing the egyptian sense that aid is an entitlement. so cash flow financing of military aid, we should not go back to that. and then the big question is, what do we do about military assistance? what do we do about the $1.3 billion in fmf? i think it would be a bodh choice to go back to that unconditionally. would just be helping them buy weapons and kicking the serious problems down the road again. another possibility would be to provide most of it continue withholding the 15% currently withheld because of human rights abuses. that would send a modest signal of disapproval, not sure if it would do all that much good. the third option would be to step back and ask whether our investment in egypt is
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appropriate given the value we get from it and the crises and opportunities we face elsewhere. my strong view is that the investment is completely out of balance. does it really make sense for this government, which does so little for regional security, which consistently rejects our advice, which describes to us its people as a hostile enemy to receive such a disproportionate chair of u.s. military aid? so i agree we should tailor what we provide to actual counterinsurgency operations in places like the sinai if they're willing to accept it which i'm not sure they would, and think about where else in the region and the world our partnerships are appreciated and our money can do actual good in the fight against terrorism and for a better world. thank you very much. >> well, thank you. we'll do seven-minute rounds and i'll start off, mr. abrams, i've talked to israel recently. they are fairly pleased with the
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security cooperation between egypt and israel regarding hamas. is that an accurate statement? >> yes. the government of egypt, of course, views hamas as part of the brotherhood, very much opposed to it and there's probably better cooperation against hamas than there's ever been. i think it's fair to say the israelis are more active now in helping in sinai than they have ever been before. >> i hear reports where egyptian helicopters are flying from israeli air bases to confront isis. >> i've heard those reports. >> yeah. >> okay. so on the good side, it seems like we have a relationship between egypt and israel on the security front that there's productive. tom, tell us about the ngo law very briefly, if you could. what are the requirements of this new law they passed? >> well, they've gotten tighter and tighter. but basically a whole range of
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date-to i had day activities that an organization needs to don conduct. >> i've heard that you have to get approval from the government for a survey, a poll survey. >> sure. or any number of other activities. so first of all, those rifrmts give the government the opportunity to say no and to shut down particular activities. but even if the government is not so inclined, the mere fact that you have to constantly ask for permission to do things is just -- makes it virtually impossible to function. and it's almost impossible not to -- the rules sore complicated it's impossible not to be in violation of something at any given moment which means that at any given moment if the government wants to shut you down, it can. an example of this, the leading organization in egypt for the rehabilitation of torture victims was recently shut down.
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so, okay. >> it's also true that american ngos, ira and ndi, that members of americans have been convictsed in egyptian court basically being spied spt that true mr. abrams? >> it is true and it's an extraordinary thing. >> raila hood's son. >> his son is one of them. we're talking about freedom house, rdirndi rshs these are not submercy of associations. >> i've talked extensively about this. i appreciate what the egyptian government did with eyeya gentleman has decide, so so much for we can't control what happens in the judiciary. ms. dunne in terms of the future of egypt, without some economic reforms and without economic growth, what's going to happen in egypt and to all of you very quickly, what does it matter to us if egypt becomes a failed state?
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because that's what i fear the most, quite frankly, is that we're headed that way. >> yes. senator, that's true. there is that danger is there, the employment problem in egypt is enormous, the human development problem in egypt is enormous. they have failing educational institutions. people coming out of secondary school and even public universities without the basic skills needed to be in the global workforce. so those are major problems and, as i've said, the egyptian government persistently makes economic decisions that don't really empower the private sector, small, medium enter prices et cetera to create jobs. that's what's needed to create labor intensive industries, services, et cetera to put them to work. without that you've got a growing unemployment rate and you have a growing population. the growing population i think is also related to the fact that young women can't get jobs and so sometimes they marry very early and start families, have
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big families. so there -- you know, it's hard to see where -- where this is going if -- and what the government keeps doing, and i think tom referred to this, is just trying to attract more and more external financing to keep them afloat. but that's not a long-term plan. they need a productive economy. >> elliot. >> it is by far the most popular arab state with the 90 million people and growing fast. if it were to become a defailed state the immakt on the whole world would be destable liegz. it would make the refugee situation in the region and toward europe that much worse. >> how realistic is that? is that a possibility? >> well, i think it is a possibility that you would see more disorder because, for one thing, as dr. dunne says, the
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economic conditions are deter rating, you have more strikes. you could see a deterioration and that produces more of an uprising. i think we should not assume stability in egypt. >> that's my question. we assume it just because it's been there, but don't think that's a good attention to make. tom, do you agree with that? >> i don't think egypt has been stable for the last six years, since 2011. i think it would be foolish for me to make predictions about when the next political rising will be. we have no idea. but we do know that -- that this is a country that will demonstrate surface stability until it doesn't and because of its size, because of it's volatility, the consequences could be quite great.
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>> i recognize senator lee then we'll go to senator myrrh rant. >> thank you. thank you very much, mr. chairman. i apologize for being late, we've been in a lot of negotiations, again thes bill too. i think the committee is fortunate to have the views of the three people here. i look at egypt, important country, at least in their mind, the question is where is it
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going? we -- >> being cyber attacked by somebody. >> let me try a different microphone. you can hear me all right? >> yes. >> in my lifetime we've provided more than $79 billion in economic and military aid to egypt, that doesn't include the excess defense equipment that runs into billions more. certainly the egyptian people are -- seem againly unaware of that, that's why the u.s. comes across so negatively in most of their polls. or maybe they do know it and they resent how it's been used and propped up a lot of repressives actions in their own government. and the younger generation sees no prospects for jobs.
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now, their position geographically does give importance. i don't know if it gives enough importance with the billions of dollars we spend there. they have thousands of members of political opposition teams, groups get imprisoned after sham trials. when members of civil society organizations are accused of sa lashs crimes they're detained for careers years. when critics of the government are tortured and killed, when u.s. officials and independent press are denied access to areas where u.s. weapons are being used amid parts of war crimes i think we have to ask some basic questions. now, secretary, you've heard me ask these questions before, but
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what do you egyptians find that civil society proves? do they use antiterrorism laws to arest these people, i mean, how should we react? are there conditions that would have effective steps on our aid? what -- what does our 1.3 billion until aid serve? what are the military force that they need that justify this and how do they spend it? and you know, i want egypt to succeed, but certainly not in a way where everybody is being
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repressed, give us the money, give us the aid, give us the equipment, we're not going to tell you how we're going to use it. now, mr. malinowski, you're isn't secretary for human rights. i want you to know a lot of members in the senate, both republicans and democrats applaud what did you. >> thank you. >> i'm sure had you a lot of meetings with the egyptian authorities on human rights concerns. how did they respond? was there anything useful? i mean, i've been in meetings with you. i've heard you ask some pretty good questions. did you get pretty good answers? go ahead. >> well, my job was talking to a authoritarian governments around the world. and i have to say the meetings
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with the government of egypt, the least productive and most unpleasant at my time in the state department. there are a lot of governments around the world that do things we don't like, back up you can have a thoughtful, intelligent conversation, intellectually challenging where you're talking to somebody who you feel like they've got the best interest of their country in mind but they have a different vision for how to achieve them. and in the kaigs case of egypt it's just angry, rude, denial of all problems and how dare you u.s. government official raise these things with us and where's our money thank you very much good-bye. >> that's giving the benefit of the doubt. >> yeah. >> i don't have to be as diplomatic anymore as i used to be. and, you know, this is why i've come to the conclusion that, you know, probably more endless hours of attempted persuasion
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are not going to get us very far, that what we need with government of egypt is a stepping back, a bit of a time-out where we get out of this entitlement mentality, where they think that every part of the relationship is something that we owe them. and we step back and try to design a relationship and an aid program that actually is there to do something positive rather than just an aid program that -- that we provide because of what we fear they will do if we somehow cut them off. >> what happens when -- when i raised some criticism with them they say look how hard they're working on isol and iraq, syria, yemen. are they? >> certainly not in syria, certainly not in yemen. they are fighting isol in the sinai, but as we were zurs discussing in a manner that's probably making the problem worse, not better.
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they face a very, very real genuine serious threat. their solders and police are getting blown up. there are attacks in cairo and other egyptian cities. i'd like to be able to help them with that threat wroir help any country facing that threat. but what they have been absolutely resistant to doing is taking the advice that our military and our national security professionals have tried offer with the equipment, with the training that -- that our aid pays for. and so you see these very ham-handed tactics that, again, make the problem worse. >> mr. chairman, my time's up but dr. dunne and mr. abrams, i have some questions but i'll submit them for the record. my staff gave me a summary of everything you've already said and i was, both of you, not only
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impressed as i fully expected to be are you about i'm very appreciative of it from both of you and i will, mr. chairman, have some other questions. >> thank you. senator myrrh ran. >> thank you very much. thank you all for joining us this afternoon. i'll try do two or three quick questions. what's the consequence to an alteration of the aid we provide egypt and the relationship between egypt and israel? the historic connection there exists, would you expect any consequences today if we alter the ault thaid we provide egypt? >> well, i would not, senator. we saw even during the morsi period when there was some fear that he would completely change the relations with israel he didn't really touch that. good relations with israel under the interests of egypt, the army understands that, they're getting help as senator graham was mentioning they're getting help in the sinai. so i think the answer is no, in fact.
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>> okay. anyone zis i disagree? yes, ms. donee. >> i don't disagree but i would like to add something, senator. look, i think that, you know, there's a good and bad side to the egyptian/israeli relationship. the good side is the military to military and security to security operation. the not so good side is the civilian side and the people to people side which is very weak and very cold. but i agree with mr. abrams that the aid that the u.s. provides no longer drives this. and i would point out that there was a period during the obama administration shortly after the military coup of 2015 in much of the military aid was suspend for more than a year. that was the heyday of egyptian/israeli relations. so i think that proved the point that the relationship now has its own logic, it's own dynamic. >> thank you. ways looking for that kind of
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reassurance. mr. malinowski, you indicated about what's occurring in regard to ngos and senator graham followed up on that. what benefits the egyptian government restricting ngo activity? why is that a benefit to them? >> well, parts of it are more logical in a nasty way than others. certainly if -- if there's an ngo that is working on antitorture and you're police and security are engaged in torture then you may not want that ngo running around and making those reports on any matter or anticorruption, very important, any matter in which the government is likely to be exposed for doing bad things. it's natural that an authoritarian state like this would want to bring those ngos
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under control. what is interesting and perhaps a bit less obviously racial is that this crack down has encompass the not just organizations working on what you might think are politically sensitive issues like the once i mentioned, but virtually all ngos that operate independently from the state. one of the problems we had last year in our esf program was we had an ngo called hrti which is one of the big implementors that was working on education programs in egypt, totally innocuous, nonpolitical. and that organization became subject to a massive campaign of public ville fa occasion in the egypt media. they're corrupting our youth, spreading homosexuality, all this and that all against this larger campaign for foreign and
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particularly american funding of ngos. so the government uses this kind of nationalism, this anti-americanism to villa phi ngos of all stripes. and in that case, it resulted in well first secretary kerry pleading with general ceci, please, take our aid, do us the favor of taking our money and in the end they wouldn't do it. or, you know, they were willing to take it if we just wrote them a check, but they didn't want us to do it through an independent ngo. and one of the best decisions we made was to say, all right, to heck with it, ear going to spend that money in tunisia, iraq, syria, place where's we have equally pressing interests but partners who want to work with us. >> thank you very much. mr. abrams, you mentioned that egypt is purchasing russian military equipment, russian special forces have been dispatched to the western desert
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in egypt since intervening in syria there's been a lot of concern about russia inserting itself in the middle east. in changing how we provide aid, are we giving russianans opportunity for more influence in egypt and the region as a whole? what's the consequences to russia and its influence based upon decisions we might make? >> i would think one would have to say that there would be something of an opening for the russians. they, unlike the gulf states which are giving tens of billions of dollars or the united states we give about a bill and a half a year, the russians are not going to give them that kind of money. but they would be willing to make loans and sell arms equipment and they'd throw their weight around in cairo if they see a weak evening of the u.s./egyptian relationship. thing is they can't really replace us in terms of economic aid, in terms of military aid, in terms of technical assistance. but i think we would have to acknowledge that you might see a
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kind of resentful government of egypt talking to the russians more. they are doing for the first time in history they are doing now a military exercise with the russians in the western desert, and they're doing that already while the aid hasn't been cut back a cent put might see more of that. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator xi an. >> thank you for all of you for your testimony. just to follow up a little bit on senator moran's question. might we expect that ceci would go back to the days of nasa where egypt played off russia against the ooh united states in terms of future assistance? mr. abrams? >> i think you'd see him threatening to do that. i think you'd see that in the state press. it's hard for them. i mean, you know, the whole
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military now after all these decades is really equipped with american stuff. now they're starting to diversify with these more vent purchases. but i think you'd certainly hear, if you will, threats of doing that. and the russians would love to take advantage of this, as we've seen in syria they'd love to reassert themselves for putin this would be a dream come true. so i think we have to acknowledge that there's a danger of the egyptians moving in that direction. >> did you want to comment on that, mr. malinowski? >> i agree with mr. abrams. they will if we let them in a way. appearance an old game, right, and we remember that game in the cold war where all kinds of authoritarian countries in the developing world would play us off against the soviet union. if you're not nice to us we'll go to moscow or we'll go to beijing. and i hope we -- we don't allow ourselves -- this is a much
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bigger question than just egypt. in this era of great power, i hope we don't allow our decisions to be influenced too often by that kind of calculus. because all we would be doing is empowering people like sisi to get what they want by making that trip to moscow and being pictured with putin and then scaring us into giving him more. i don't think that's in our interest. >> thank you. dr. dunn, did you want to add something? >> yes, thank you, senator. i wanted to add that i think this is already happening in effect. clearly president sisi add mears putin a great deal, approves. he said openly from the beginning that he approved the russian intervention in syria and perhaps would feel the same way about libya, that he's ramping up the relationship with
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russia in a number of ways, so i do, i think he's going to move forward with that relationship, even if we provide all the aid. >> thank you. to follow up, dr. dunne, i was struck by your testimony where you point out that what, under sisi, egypt is moving to a state where even more so than under mubarak, the interests of the few are what overrides decision making as opposed to interests of the many. remembering the press reports about the brief time in which the islamic state controlled egypt, is and there were a number of reports about mainstream egyptian society. i'm probably using the wrong term there in terms of identifying who, who was concerned about that. but there was definitely, there
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were definitely reports that there were many egyptians who were not happy with that situation and who were feeling relieved when sisi actually took back control in egypt, so, to what extent do we think the egyptian people are happy with what sisi's doing and the direction that he's heading, and how do we speak to those, to the people of egypt in terms of the support that we want to provide? >> thank you, senator. look, i think that, you know, it's certainly true that while mohammad morsi of the muslim brotherhood was president of egypt, it was a very brief team. it was a year. >> thank you, i think i said the islamic state. i meant the muslim brotherhood. thank you for correcting me.
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>> there were concerns among more secular egyptians who don't consider themselves islamists that the brotherhood would sort of bring about different expressions of islamic law or things like that. there definitely were concerns. now the brotherhood, through morsi was in power a very brief team. and frankly, they didn't have team to do any of that and we can only imagine what they would have done. what they did do, which senator graham indicated earlier was to overplay their home, and they did an until of undemocratic things. they sort of manhandles the egyptian judiciary and forced through a constitution that a lot of egyptians didn't agree with, right? so it's true. there was a lot of public opposition to morsi. but i think unfortunately, what the military did was use that to not only remove morsi but to end the democratic transition, and
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that is, i don't think that is what most egyptians wanted. people went out in the millions in june 2013 calling for a new presidential election. they wanted a chance to vote again on whether morsi should continue his term or not. that's not what they got. they got an end to the whole thing and a restoration of military rule in a much more direct and brutal way than they had under mubarak. sisi is growing increasingly unpopular. there's not much polling in ooe egypt nowadays, but there is feeling that what he promised in terms of security or the economy, egyptians are becoming disenchanted. but at this point, since he's thrown so many people in prison and eliminated so many opposition political forces, they really don't have many al tern testifi terntives from which to choose. >> thank you. the recent visit by president
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sisi saw the white house saying that they didn't want to make human rights an issue, a public issue. they prefer to work behind the scenes. president trump suggested that. is that a good approach for us to be taking when it comes to the human rights issues in egypt? >> you won't be shocked to hear me say no. and it's not just the impact on egypt that i'm concerned about. i'm somewhat pessimistic about our ability to influence egypt in any fundamental way right now. when i was assistant secretary i would find in traveling around the world in africa and egypt, people would throw certain emblematic examples of u.s. relationships with other countries in my face. egypt was one of them. oh, you're here, you're urging us to do this and that. in egypt you're propping up. and i'd explain, it's much more
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complicated and we're criticizing them and withholding some aid. but the point is, when the whole world sees the spectacle of the president coming to the white house and being praised bit president of the united states and the statement that we won't talk about human rights publicly, i'm afraid it affects perceptions of what we stand for in the hears ats and minds of people. i am glad they got aya hijazi out of prison, but the way the visit itself was handled, i was very sad. >> me too, thank you all. >> senator koonce. >> thank you for convening the hearing and for our assembled witnesses for testify today. i must say this is a very disheartening hearing.
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it's a reminder of just how challenging it is for us to promote our three goals of supporting american values and defending human rights in a country that has received over $70 billion in u.s. aid over many, many years. and many of the topics i thought would address have already been addressed by others. let pea focme focus on a few qu. given the broad crackdown on human rights under the current government in egypt i'm concerned about it undermining long-term efforts to build any enduring political institutions or to successfully combat and defeat violent extremists. first, there's a significant amount if i understand right, of undedicated support funds, $600 million, there were reports that these are funds that multiple organizations have received as implementing partners of ours but never got final approval from the egyptian government to
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ten the t continue their work. $600 million ain't chicken feed. that's real money and could make a significant difference in a country that has so many basic challenges. i'm looking for any volunteer from the panel who wants to address that one. >> thank you, senator. yes, unfortunately, there is a history of real problems between the united states government and the egyptian government in getting funds spent in a productive way. sometimes there have been disagreements about economic reforms that were needed. there's been egyptian government resistance. but then puzzlingly even when there was an agreement on steps to be taken. there was even specific programs agreed upon and signed and so
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forth with egyptian ministries, there were times when the egyptian government has obstructed the implementation of programs. he was just addressing assistance that was to be i implemented by rti. one thing is that there is a deep xenophobia inside the egyptian government, particularly certain parts of the egyptian government. the security establishment. and they fight very hard against engagement, people to people engagement between egyptians and foreign organizations, non-governmental organizations and so forth. and they will try to block it because of their deep suspicion. the other thing is that basically, there are parts of the egyptian government that really want the aid in cash. and sometimes they will just try to stone wall programs in the
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hopes that it will eventually just be delivered in cash, as cash budget support, with few or no conditions. so there is a long history of this. and if you would permit me, senator, my own feeling about this is this could usefully be converted into something like a fund for scholarships, for egyptians, for the kind of training that they need that perhaps could be implemented with a minimum of egyptian government involvement. >> interesting. >> so a while back, president sisi made a speech in which he mentioned a concept that he referred to as fourth generation warfare. and what he meant by that is other egyptian officials explained in more detail was an
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effort by the united states and other western countries to destroy egypt from within. i'm using their terms. by, through these kinds of assistance programs. subverting egyptian youth, spreading western eideals. democratic ideals, et cetera. we had a talk with him about that during the former administration and about the broader problem of this anti-american propaganda. and we didn't hear as much of that personally from him, subsequently. but certainly, in the egyptian state media, pro-government media, these kinds of attacks on our aid providers, including rti, continued to the point where it became very, very difficult for them to continue to do their work. they worried about their safety of their egyptian employees,
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amongst other things. i totally agree that, you know, something like a scholarship program would be a great way to spend economic assistance money in egypt, would be the thing probably above all that ordinary egyptians would appreciate. i'm not sure if we could implement it, because you can't just do it remotely of you have to have people there to do the selection and figure out, you know, who gets what. and i doesn't knn't know if we that without risk. >> i have just a minute and a half left. so two other questions, and mr. abrams, i'll invite you to answer all of these in one move if you could. some have called upon the trump administration to designate the muslim brotherhood as a terrorist organization, and i'd be interested, ms. dunne if there's evidence to do so and what the consequences might be. and if you could combine a comment on whether long-term aid is responsible without strengthening civil society.
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and i would be interested in what concerns you have on the attack on civil society. >> i wanted to start by saying on the international cooperation question, part of the problems, it's about the least cooperative agency on the face of the earth when it comes to implementing american aid programs. no, you should not designate them muslim brotherhood as a terrorist organization. that would be a very foolish move. egypt is not going to be stable if there is nothing in it but the army and the opposition to the army. and if all of the civil society organizations that represent actually not just egyptians but represent american values as it turns out in egypt, like freedom of press and freedom of speech, freedom of association, free trade unions are crushed by the state, that's going to weaken stability in egypt, not only in
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the long run, but i'd say in the medium run. >> thank you. >> briefly on the muslim brotherhood question, senator. first of all, no. i don't believe the evidence exists. first of all, there isn't anything globally called the muslim brotherhood. but let's look at the egyptian muslim brotherhood itself. i don't think the evidence exists that they are carrying out actions that meet the u.s. standard of terrorist activity. second of all, i would say that if the u.s. decided to designate regardless, even without the evidence, it would be handing a major victory to isis, because they are the ones who have argued that, you know, only violence works, and therefore that those islamists who try to pursue change through political or other means are fools. >> thank you very much. i appreciation the whole panel. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you to the panel for coming today. foreign assistance can serve as
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an effective tool of american foreign policy and advance u.s. interests abroad, whether it be humanitarian aid or economic and military support. that being said, it's essential the programs are administered in an open fashion to memorize the consequences or use by inappropriate recipients. the significance of accountability was further highlighted by the recent horrific terrorist attacks on coptic christians and others in egypt, ensuring that u.s. taxpayer dollars and equipment does not end up in the wrong hands is certainly above most importance. dr. dunne in terms of egyptian political stability, what do you see as the potential best and worst-case scenarios for the next two to three years. >> thank you n, senator. look, the best case scenario
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would be that, you know, some sort of a return to a more, a more open political process in which more people can participate, turn away from repression and human rights abuses, a change in the economic policies towards something that's a little more private sector-oriented and oriented toward generating jobs for ordinary egyptians. i western i thought thish i tho likely scenario, but i haven't seen any indications that things are going that way. the worst-case scenario, there is a possibility of political unrest similar to what happened in 2011. what's even worse than that, though, would be if the insurgency that is based in sinai and the individual cells related to isis that we see starting to pop up in the egyptian mane la egyptian mainland were to really take off, you know, into a kind of a larger insurgency, and
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that's my fear about the egyptian government's approach receipt no right now, that they are actually driving toward this insurgency becoming a larger thing and destabilizing the country. >> thank you. so when you think about the u.s. relationship with egypt, particularly the u.s. support for president sisi, what are the potential benefits as well as the risks ahead of the next egyptian presidential election? >> yes, senator, as you point out, president sisi's term ends about a year from now, in may of 2018. and i do think the united states has to be careful about the signal that we send, that we should be supporting egypt as a nation, the egyptians as a people and, you know, making a vote for a positive future for egypt without endorsing, necessarily, president sisi himself or the specific policies that he's pursuing, because many
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of them are quite troubling. >> mr. abrams. in your testimony, you state that the egyptian military remains a force designed to conduct conventional war, not to fight terrorism. with that in mind, the previous administration proposed to require military assistance to egypt to be directly used for, and i would quote, counter terror e, border security, sinai security and maritime security. are these appropriate and effective conditions? >> i think it's the right idea. i think the problem in part is that that may be what we direct our aid to. but if the egyptian military meanwhile is buying submarines, which they do not need, to combat terrorism, buying high-performance combat jets to fight terrorism, they're wasting a lot of resources.
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we're pouring it in and they're pouring it out in the wrong end, but i think what the obama administration did in trying to push them in that direction is the right thing and i hope the congress would ten it of. >> so what recommendations meet you recommend that u.s. assistance is used effectively and does advance our interests? >> first that we continue to insist that it be used on a certain kind of program, a certain kind of weapon system. i also think they need more training to do this in a way that suggests that three aey ar quilli killing terrorists rather than civilians. they've killed about 2500 isis people in sinai and captured 2500. that's 5,000. but the cism a estimates there are only about500 to 1,000
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anyway. so they need to be more honest with us about what they are doing and which they are not creating jihadis by attacking civilians in sinai, creating sympathy for the sinai province of isis. ? so many of us were back home the last couple of weeks. and if you talk to the man or woman on the street, and if they were here on this dais and were asked the question, are u.s. interests, are they served by sending u.s. taxpayer dollars to egypt, and why should america care, mr. abrams, how would you respond to that in talking to the person on the street. as oftentimes we're having to justify when we go back home the significant am ount of dollars september ov sent overseas. >> we have learned the hard way that terrorism that emerges in the middle east doesn't stay in the middle east ma.
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now whether $1.3 billion for egypt, looking at the global question of combating terrorism, whether $1.3 billion can be defended today i think is a lot harder to explain to your constituents. >> dr. dunne egypt's economy has grown in recent decades. unemployment, especially for young people. egyptians under the age of 30. how would you recommend the united states help boost egypt's economy and do you see opportunities in the ag and natural resource sectors? >> thank you, senator. so i've already mentioned that i do think the united states should support development of the human labor force so young egyptians coming into the market have good skills through our education which is highly
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valued. on the job creation side, you know, we really have this problem with egyptian government policies not supporting, not changing their policies in such a way as to support the private sector, small and medium enterprises, could be the agricultural sack tor agricultural sector is one of the promising sectors in egypt of we have been trying to do something through the united states enterprise fund. the united states has established this fund, and it's starting to do some things that set a good example of how someone would encourage small and medium enterprises, but admittedly, this is a very, very tough bunch aone. and several administrations have tried and have not been successful in getting the egyptian government to change its policies in such a way as to generate jobs. it's a very tough one. what we can do is try to set a good example and do the best
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thing we can do, a little bit of good with the amount of aid that we're comfortable providing. >> thanks, dr. dunne. thanks mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for all your testimony. dr. dunne, i think you're on the mark where you say the egyptian people didn't bargain for the kind of repressive regime they have. it's not what the egyptian people asked for. i can sense all of us are obviously frustrated, because we are struggling with how we can better use our leverage and influence with egypt, which, over a period of time has been a close ally of the united states, and i think you all made the case very well that the united states is less reliant on egypt sort of standing in the region. i think it's also fair to say that from egypt's perspective,
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they're a little less rely niann the united states given the support they're getting from the gulf states. so this committee is going to have to make decisions on where to go. thank you, dr. dunne for your perspectives on economic assistance. i'd like to get from all of you where you stand on the following things. should congress mutt put in a restriction that continues the obama administration's prohibition on cash flow financing. should we put that in the legislation? all three yes, okay. now senator danes raised the question about limiting the military assistance to the four pillars that the obama administration had laid out, the counter terrorism, border security, sinai security, maritime security. mr. abrams, you pointed out that
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there's a lot of flexibility in those categories. based on your testimony, it sounds like you all might support a tightening of those categories and making it even more focussed on counter terrorism, sinai, maybe strict border security type actions. is that the case? >> yes. >> yes, and i would add access to the sinai for our people. i would add for journalists, ngos wou ngos would be an important part of this. if we're going to be serious about counter insurgency, there's got to be accountability that goes along with it. one of the outrageous demands we made, quote-unquote outrageous demands we made on the egyptians, if we're going to give you all this help on the sinai, maybe you should allow our people to go there and see what's going on.
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and that was not received with great enthusiasm. >> i hear you. dr. dunne? >> yes, look, the gao report from a year ago spoke about the very serious problems the united states has had with end-use monitoring and human rights vetting that are required by our laws based on obstruction by the egyptian government, so i think we need to take another look at that and be serious about that, especially in view of these very terrible reports of extra judicial killings. >> unless there's a verification that the egyptian government is making more strides toward human rights? >> last year has been really horrendous for human rights. so i would consider going to 20 or 25. >> i would agree with that. and i think also at a more basic
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level, as long as we ten to keep the 1.3 billion on auto pilot, and they know it's going to be approved every year and it's just a question of how we do it, that's another thing that sort of removes some u.s. leverage. i think it's time for a sort of ground-up assessment of what is really needed to help egypt effectively and in a way that we think we can monitor and respect our own laws and so forth in doing. >> i strongly agree with dr. dunne. keeping the 15% is better than nothing, but i think a much more fundamental assessment is needed. you know, the basic problem is that egypt does not view this assistance as having a policy purpose. this is not money that america is giving us to help us achieve
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something. it is owed. it is part of a deal struck decades ago. and that mentality is something that i could not explain to your constituents and that needs to be broken. >> fair enough. so provision extending the ban on the cash flow, financing, conditions that limit the aid that we do provide and military assistance that we do provide to ev narrower category and expanding the withhold amount withheld or reducing the overall amount, based on the current conditions. do you have any suggestions there? do you think that the criteria are the receipt ones? >> i think i would need to look at them again in light of what's happening on the ground right now. i mean, i think they're the right categories, but you always
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want to try to hone them to the daily realities. >> and my last question is, assuming the senate accepts these recommendations and we move forward with these conditions, obviously, the egyptian government won't like it. but what do you believe their reaction will be? do you think that they will move forward with us? using this leverage in the way we're talking about, i assume your judgment is that this would be a, sort of a moment where we say to the egyptians, this is not on ought mat eautomatic pil. we are serious about this. do you think that would have a long-term beneficial result? >> i don't think the egyptians are going to walk away. the aid is still very significant and very significant for the military, which is president sisi's base of support. and you know what will happen if you cut the aid, you, meaning the congress, is that the
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administration will play good cop-bad cop in what is potentially a very useful way. >> and i would add to that, senator that clearly president sisi's sought that avidly from the time of the campaign until now. and so, and, you know, and the administration has indicated that they're going to have a fresh look at aid. i was struck by the fact that during president sisi's visit he did not get a promise to keep aid on auto pilot. so there's a moment here that can be used to redefine the relationship in a way that's more in our interests. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you. >> thank you all for a very, very helpful hearing as we try to go forward. we're about to do, hopefully, this week, fy 17. but we'll take all of this in terms of fy 18.
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29% cut to the state department is unacceptable. we all care about egypt. we have a good relationship with egypt. what i see is disheartening. i'm not asking egypt to do what i'm telling them. i'm asking egypt to listen to their people who went out in the streets in 2011, and to me, this is not what they bargained for. i don't think they got what they b bargained for from mr. morsi. and i don't think they're getting what they bargained for from the current administration. and with the tax dollars we have, i think we need to spend them wisely, consistent with our values. as to what egypt might do, i don't know what they might do. i just know what we need to do. we need to reshape the relationship in a way that's sustainable. a good outcome for egypt is a good outcome for us. and what's a good outcome?
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that everybody's sharing the benefits of the economy. that the military's a strong institution but not the most dominant player in the economy and that political areas can form. that's not the direction we're headed. as to what they might do with russia or any other country, i just hope they understand that we want to be friendly, but i don't think it's wise to hook your wagon to putin. i don't think he's long for this world. i think what he offers russia over time will be rejected. it's just a matter of team before the russian people realize that putin's played them for a fool, represented them off, put their country and economy at risk and i hope egypt will take a new direction, not march toward putin but march away from him, march back to the square where it all started. with that, the hearing is adjourned. we'll have the next hearing on
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may 9 on democracy programs. and sometimes later about the fy 2018 budget. meeting's adjourned. thank you all for coming. [ applause ]

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