U.S. Senator, John McCain: "Egypt is the heart and soul of the Arab world"
U.S. Senator John McCain tells the Cairo Review of Global Affairs that the United States should back Libyan rebels, de-legitimize Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and provide “tremendous” support for Egypt’s democracy efforts. In an interview Sunday with the Cairo Review, a quarterly journal produced by the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo, McCain called the popular uprisings sweeping the Middle East “seminal, seismic events that can transform the entire globe.”
McCain said Egypt is the “heart and soul of the Arab world” and “what happens here in Egypt will have a profound effect on the rest of the Arab world and frankly, the world.” Accordingly, he added, “We should focus a tremendous amount of American national security policy, American assistance, American help, on Egypt.” He said General Mohamed Tantawi has handled Egypt’s transition “very well so far” but commented that “the military continues to walk a fine line between trying to keep order and being guilty of being repressive.”
Speaking just after meeting with Libyan rebels in Benghazi, McCain called on President Barack Obama to recognize the Libyan National Transitional Council, and to provide more “robust” air support as well weapons and training to the Libyan rebel fighters. He said he opposed sending American combat troops to Libya because “it would be viewed in many parts of Libya as another American invasion.”
McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said a stalemate in Libya “sends a message to other dictators, like Bashar Assad and others, if you kill enough people, you stay in power.” McCain, a strong supporter of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, stopped short of calling for regime change in Syria. But he said: “I think it is time that we declared that Assad has lost legitimacy by slaughtering his own people. I think we should say the guy is doing terrible things and we should do everything we can do to stop him. We should no longer have any illusions about Bashar Assad being a reformer. He is a brutal dictator just like his father was.”
McCain said the Arab uprisings require “a renewed urgency to bring about successful negotiations on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.” McCain said: “I am very worried that elections in certain Arab countries that there will be a level of demagoguery that will fan anti-Israeli attitudes which can be very harmful to peace in this part of the world.”