The Senate tonight passed a bipartisan resolution from a pair of influential lawmakers calling on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to immediately start transferring power to an interim government.
The Senate resolution was offered by John Kerry, the Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and John McCain, R-Ariz. A handful of other senators, including Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., quickly signed off on it. While the move was merely symbolic, it indicates a growing concern in Congress about the situation in Egypt.
“This is a resolution which expresses the deep concern of the United States Senate over the events that are taking place in Egypt at this time,” Kerry said on the Senate floor.
“Sen. Kerry’s and my resolution urges the Egyptian military to demonstrate maximum professionalism and restraint and emphasizes the importance of working to peacefully restore calm and order while allowing for free and nonviolent freedom of expression,” McCain said. “We do not want the Egyptian military to encourage thugs. We do not want the Egyptian military to be a party to increased violence.
“We are concerned about an interim government,” he added. “That interim government must be representative of all democratic forces within Egypt. We call on in this resolution President Mubarak to immediately begin an orderly and peaceful transition to a democratic political system, including the transfer of power to an inclusive interim caretaker government in coordination with leaders from Egypt’s opposition, civil society and military.
“Egypt is the heart and soul of the Arab world, and what we have been watching unfold in the last week has grieved all of us and concerned all of us,” McCain said. “And there is every possibility that this crisis lurches into a genuine massacre, and we cannot afford that, and we must do everything in our power to see that it stops.
“What is happening here is a seminal event and how it turns out will affect the future of the 21st century,” he said. “If Egypt turns to radical Islamist extremism and other countries as well, it poses not only a threat to America’s national security but to the well-being of tens of thousands of people.
“Stop the bloodletting. Let’s start a peaceful transition to a free and open society and to a government that can regain and hold the trust of the people.”
“Tomorrow,” he warned, “could be a very very very critical day in the history of the Egyptian people’s struggle for freedom.”
Graham promptly echoed those sentiments.
“To the army, I doubt that you’re watching C-Span, but you have a chance to bring order out of chaos,” said Graham, adding that “it is in our national security interest that we have a stable Egypt.”
Both Kerry and McCain have been critical of Mubarak in the past week.
In a New York Times op-ed article on Tuesday, Kerry wrote, “Egyptians have moved beyond his regime and the best way to avoid unrest turning into upheaval is for President Mubarak to take himself and his family out of the equation.”
In a statement released Wednesday, McCain said, “The rapidly deteriorating situation in Egypt leads me to the conclusion that President Mubarak needs to step down and relinquish power. It is clear that the only institution in Egypt that can restore order is the army, but I fear that for it to do so on behalf of a government led by or involving President Mubarak would only escalate the violence and compromise the army’s legitimacy.”
(Source: ABC News)