Republican senator backs Egypt's Sisi

A delegation of American Republicans, led by Lindsey Graham, expresses support for Egypt's president and his fight against ISIS.

Ben Ariel ,

Senator Lindsey Graham
Senator Lindsey Graham

A delegation of American Republicans visiting Cairo on Sunday said that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was the "right man at the right time" for Egypt, AFP reported.

The six-member delegation, led by Senator Lindsey Graham, said it backed Sisi in the fight against the jihadist Islamic State (ISIS) group, though it was cautious when asked to respond to growing accusations of human rights violations committed by Egyptian security forces.

Graham said Sisi was "the right man at the right time" to lead Egypt as ISIS group had become a "nightmare" for the entire region.

"There is a desire that Daesh be destroyed in Sinai... the president has expressed his desire to destroy Daesh," Graham said using the Arabic acronym for ISIS, whose Sinai branch, known as the Sinai Province, has stepped up its terrorist attacks in the peninsula over the last three years.

When asked about the human rights situation in Egypt, Graham offered a response in stark contrast to the Obama administration, which has regularly criticized reported human rights abuses in Egypt.

"I understand that the country is a new democracy and coming out of chaos," Graham told reporters in Cairo, according to AFP.

"He (Sisi) has to balance security with the rule of law... there are elements that come to Egypt to disrupt the nation and there are many people coming here to help you. Don't treat them all in the same way," the senator added.

In 2013, shortly after Sisi and the Egyptian army ousted then-Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Obama suspended American military aid to Egypt. He released the aid last year.

American law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, though Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a "coup" and had been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.

Last year, in fact, Secretary of State John Kerry resumed formal security talks with Egypt, saying the administration is committed to working with Egypt to enhance its military capabilities as it confronts growing threats from extremists.

Rights groups have accused Egypt's security services of carrying out illegal detentions, forced disappearances of activists and torture of detainees since Morsi’s ouster.

After his removal, a police crackdown targeting Morsi's supporters left hundreds dead and tens of thousands jailed. Hundreds more have been sentenced to death including Morsi himself. The Muslim Brotherhood, of whom he is a member, was outlawed as a terrorist organization in Egypt.