The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey, urged senators not to cut off aid to the Egyptian military in the current “crisis” involving Americans working for pro-democracy groups in Egypt.
Dempsey, who visited Egypt Feb. 11, told the Senate Armed Services Committee today that he has pressed top Egyptian military officers “in the strongest possible terms” to resolve the dispute over Egyptian moves to prosecute Americans and others involved with non-governmental organizations in Egypt.
He said he left Egyptian military leaders, including Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the interim ruling council, with “no doubt” about the seriousness of the issue.
“I am convinced that potentially they were underestimating the impact of this on our relationship,” Dempsey said. “When I left there, there was no doubt that they understood the seriousness of it.”
Dempsey cautioned lawmakers not to cut aid to Egypt, saying such a move would be a “mistake.” The proposed federal budget for the 2013 fiscal year, released yesterday, calls for $1.3 billion in assistance to the Egyptian military, $1.8 million in military education and $250 million in economic assistance.
Dempsey was appearing before the committee to testify about the 2013 defense authorization request. He made his comments on Egypt in response to a question from Senator John McCain of Arizona, the panel’s top Republican.