State Dept. to Consult Congress on Egypt Aid
State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland explained that due to concern from Congress over the recently-announced $450 million of assistance pledged to Egypt, the State Department is “going to have to work with the Congress in the coming days and weeks to explain why we think this money is so essential at a time of almost $12 billion in budget gap in Egypt.” She also reiterated support for Susan Rice, the United States’ Ambassador to the U.N., after Rep. Peter King (R-NY) called for her resignation due to her “failure of foreign policy messag[ing] and leadership” in light of the attacks on U.S. diplomatic holding in Egypt and Libya. The State Department also announced that the Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy will meet on October 3 to discuss the government’s “economic-related assistance for supporting Egypt’s democratic transition and how the U.S. Government can assist U.S. businesses operating and seeking to do business in Egypt.” Elliott Abrams also wrote of his support Rep. Kay Granger‘s (R-TX) recent decision to delay U.S. foreign aid to the Egyptian government.
Meanwhile, Egyptian delegates stalled in their effort to draft the country’s new constitution by the December deadline due to disagreements over the legality of the drafting commission. Nathan Brown of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace predicted that the constitution will be more liberal and participatory than any of the country’s previous constitutions. Protests were planned against the current draft of the document of which Article 36 dictates that the “rules of Islamic jurisprudence” be the basis for women’s rights.
Additionally, Salafist Mohammed Saad al-Azhari, a member of the constitutional drafting panel, expressed his desire to remove a “proposed clause banning the trafficking of women” and “abolish laws setting 18 as the minimum age of marriage for girls.” Another Salafist, Mohammed Omara of the Nour Party, also tasked with drafting the constitution, drew criticism for justifying the marriage of underage girls solely on interpretations of Quranic texts. Media figure Tawfiq Okasha, an outspoken critic of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, was released from jail but still faces trial for “incitement” after he leveled “scathing attacks” on Morsi via his television station al-Faraeen.