Egypt could become an Islamist state or face another military takeover if President Mohamed Morsi's judicial power grab is left unchecked, US Senator John McCain warned Sunday.
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, urged President Barack Obama to be prepared to use billions of dollars of American aid as leverage to force Egypt's first Islamist leader to change course, AFP reported.
Asked about the chance of a new Islamist state in Egypt, McCain replied, "I think it could be headed that way. You also could be headed back into a military takeover if things went in the wrong direction. You could also see a scenario where there is continued chaos."
The "Arab Spring" revolution swept through Egypt nearly two years ago, and with Obama’s support, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a staunch US ally, was ousted. A provisional military regime replaced him until elections catapulted the formerly outlawed Islamic Muslim Brotherhood party into power.
Morsi on Thursday undercut a hostile judiciary that had been considering whether to scrap an Islamist-dominated panel drawing up a new constitution, stripping judges of the right to rule on the case or challenge his decrees.
"This is not what the United States and American taxpayers expect and our dollars will be directly related to the progress towards democracy, which you promised the people of Egypt, when your party and you were elected president," McCain told Fox News Sunday.
"Our leverage, obviously, is not only the substantial billions in aid we provide, plus debt forgiveness, plus an IMF deal, but also the marshaling (of) world public opinion (that) is also against this kind of move by Mr. Morsi," he said.
Obama pledged $1 billion in extra support to Egypt last year in addition to the annual $1.3 billion military funding Washington already provides to Cairo.
The International Monetary Fund reached a deal with Egyptian authorities last week on a 22-month loan totaling some $4.8 billion to help the country overcome economic difficulties.
Morsi's opponents, bolstered by outrage from Egyptian justices and media organizations and criticism from the international community, have called for a mass demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Tuesday.
The political crisis has sparked fears of new violence in the Arab world's most populous state.