Foreign Affairs - Official Blog
Posts from February 2011
WELLINGTON, NZ -- Congressman Don Manzullo (R-IL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, was leading a trade mission in New Zealand this week when a major earthquake hit the city of Christchurch, toppling buildings and killing at least 75 people.
The 8-member U.S. Congressional delegation – the largest ever to visit New Zealand -- represented the United States at the US-NZ Partnership Forum in Christchurch on Monday and left the city at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday (New Zealand is 18 hours ahead of Chicago time) bound for the capital city of Wellington (about 180 miles north of Christchurch) for meetings with Prime Minister John Key and other political leaders. The earthquake struck Christchurch at 12:51 p.m.
Other Members in the U.S. delegation included Reps. Dan Lundgren (R-CA), Kevin Brady (R-TX), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), and Gregorio Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands).
“The thoughts and prayers of our delegation, and the American people we represent, are with the people of Christchurch, the Canterbury region and all of New Zealand on the occasion of this devastating tragedy. Having received the warm reception of the people of Christchurch at the Partnership Forum only hours before the earthquake struck makes this disaster all the more personal and poignant,” Manzullo said. “The recently signed Wellington Declaration states: ‘We recall the long history of shared United States and New Zealand sacrifice in battle.’ Your American friends extend profound condolences and sympathy to the victims of this tragedy and to their families and friends.”
Monday’s forum in Christchurch was held to discuss the United States’ proposal to join the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a multilateral agreement between New Zealand, Australia, and six others, whose goal is to eliminate all tariffs among member nations by 2015.
The U.S. delegation is scheduled to leave New Zealand today to continue talks on the TPP in Australia. They are scheduled to visit the capital city of Canberra and meet with Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard as well as the Ministers of Trade, Defense, and Foreign Affairs. The delegation will also meet with their counterparts at Parliament. The delegation is also scheduled to meet with American and Australian business leaders.
(WASHINGTON) Congressman Don Manzullo (R-IL), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, today issued the following statement responding to the resignation of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak:

“Our thoughts today are with the people of Egypt as they celebrate this historic non-violent transition of power in their nation with hopes for a more free and prosperous future. The resignation of President Mubarak paves the way for new leaders to emerge through democratic elections guided by the principles of freedom to lead the people of Egypt forward. We urge a prompt and orderly transition but caution the people of Egypt to avoid the advances of extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood who would rule through fear and draw a wedge among Egypt, the United States, Israel and other nations.”

Feb. 11, 2011
Contact: Josh Moenning, 402-379-1984 or
Kerri Price, 202-225-4806

Fortenberry to Vice-Chair Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Jeff Fortenberry has been selected as Vice-Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights. Fortenberry will join Chairman Chris Smith and Ranking Member Donald Payne on that subcommittee’s leadership.

"Congressman Fortenberry has worked tirelessly during his tenure on our Committee to promote the principles of democracy and prevent U.S. tax dollars from being entangled in assaults on human dignity worldwide,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “As Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, I am certain that he will continue to exert strong leadership on the issues of global health, particularly malaria, neglected tropical diseases and maternal mortality. Additionally, I know that Jeff has deep knowledge of Sudan and that there is a large Sudanese refugee community in his district, providing Jeff with unique insights on the issue which will enhance our Committee’s ability to support and advance a peaceful transition to independence for South Sudan. I look forward to working with Jeff in his new role as Vice Chair.”

“I am honored to be appointed by Chairman Ros-Lehtinen as Vice Chair of this important subcommittee,” said Fortenberry. “The subcommittee will examine U.S. policy options for humanitarian and foreign assistance to Africa, as well as the global security implications posed by burgeoning terrorist groups in the Horn of Africa as we seek to combat the region's rapid devolution into a barbarous and chaotic safe haven for terrorists. I also look forward to working with my colleagues on critical human rights issues, new to the subcommittee’s jurisdiction, to ensure our foreign policy measures protect the world’s most vulnerable. Nebraska is home to many members of the African Diaspora, especially Sudanese, Somali, and Nigerian refugees, and many of the issues covered by this subcommittee are vitally important to our community, as well as the nation and world at large.”

Fortenberry is also a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. This is his fourth term serving on both subcommittees.


Contact: Josh Moenning, 402-379-1984 or
Kerri Price, 202-225-4806

Fortenberry: Mubarak Resignation “the Right Decision for the Future of Egypt”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Jeff Fortenberry today issued the following statement concerning Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation from office:

“America stands for the right of the Egyptian people to realize their highest aspirations, and today’s news of President Mubarak’s resignation marks the most significant moment in Egypt’s recent history.

“Yesterday, I was stunned by President Mubarak’s decision to remain in office, as were the Egyptian people. Today, I think he made the right decision for the future of Egypt, and fortunately, there was no major escalation in violence. I am hopeful that the Egyptian military, now in power, will follow through on recent promises to amend Egypt’s constitution, implement democratic changes, investigate the acts of violence that ensued in recent weeks, and advance an orderly and peaceful transition.

“The key pillars of democracy are respect for human rights and the rule of law, and it is my hope that institutional processes that undergird these tenets will evolve to maintain peace and consolidate Egypt’s historic role as an ongoing moderating force in the Middle East. Former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat laid down his life for this peace, and it is fundamental to the stability of the region.

“It is also essential that democratic reforms in Egypt are inclusive of minorities, particularly women and Christians. Although some groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, want to restrict their civic engagement, a just and peaceful outcome will respect the rights of democratic participation for all citizens. This is clearly the outcome that protesters are seeking to achieve.”

Fortenberry, who lived near Tahrir Square in Cairo, is the Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee with jurisdiction over Africa, and a member of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.


Washington, D.C.—Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03) issued the following statement in response to today’s vote on the United Nations Tax Equalization Refund Act of 2011 (H.R. 519), which would have required the United Nations to return to the U.S. government $179 million that the U.S. overpaid to the U.N. Tax Equalization Fund:

“House Democrats missed an opportunity today to tell the American people that they are serious about cutting spending and ending waste in Washington.

“By its own admission, the United Nations said it owed the U.S. $179 million in overpayments. Instead of returning the money to the American taxpayer, House Democrats effectively told the U.N. to keep the change. This would never happen in the private sector and it shouldn’t be happening in the public sector.

“Washington has a real problem with throwing around taxpayer dollars as if they belong to Congress. It’s the people’s money; the U.N. had too much of it; and Democrats voted today against returning it to its rightful owner. It’s a sad day and hopefully not a harbinger of things to come as we prepare to debate the budget next week.”

The bill, which failed to reach the required two-thirds vote to pass, was introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

February 4, 2011
Egyptian chaos poses huge challenge to the U.S.
By U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly, Special to the LA Jewish Journal

The late Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was fond of pointing out that Israel “lives in a bad neighborhood.” The popular revolt in Egypt reminds us of the enduring truth of that comment.
Since the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat by members of the Muslim Brotherhood for making peace with Israel, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has steadfastly stood by the peace treaty with the Jewish state and has been a stalwart U.S. ally against Islamic terrorism.
Egypt’s treaty with Israel admittedly has resulted in a cold peace, but the treaty and the subsequent Israeli treaty with Jordan are vital to Israel’s security and the interests of the United States.
The populist uprising that swept through Tunisia last month now threatens not only Mubarak, but also regimes throughout the region.
Jordanian King Abdullah, under populist pressure, has already replaced his entire cabinet and there have been mass demonstrations in Yemen. There is justifiable concern that this same pressure threatens the stability of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Libya, and Algeria.
These countries are among largest oil suppliers in the Arab world. If political chaos leads to chaos in the world’s largest oil fields, the economies of the United States and all of our western allies would be in jeopardy. Soaring oil prices and lack of adequate petroleum supplies would devastate the West.
It is no coincidence that this is exactly the goal spelled out by Al Queda leader Osama bin Laden and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Their dream is a Muslim-dominated world ruled by Islamic Sharia law.
The more chaotic the situation in Egypt and the less time pro-democratic elements have to organize, the more likely anti-Western groups like the Muslim Brotherhood will seize power. There simply is no democratic alternative group or leader in Egypt organized enough to resist them
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 with the goal of establishing an Islamic empire from Spain through Indonesia. Its leaders actively supported Nazi Germany during WWII and Hitler’s efforts to exterminate the Jewish people.
The Muslim Brotherhood fought against Israel’s creation in 1948 and assassinated a number of more moderate Arab leaders, such as Jordanian King Abdullah’s grandfather.
Although the Muslim Brotherhood now claims to have given up violence, no one really believes that. Muslim Brotherhood leaders have said not only would they revoke Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, but that if they come to power, Israel should prepare for war.
History suggests the Muslim Brotherhood is well situated to seize power in Egypt.
After popular protests in Russia forced Czar Nicholas II to abdicate early in 1917, a weak provisional government with democratic elements was established. Because the Czar’s rapid and sudden abdication left a power vacuum and democratic forces were fractured, Lenin returned to Russia and led his Communist Party to absolute power just a few months later. A similar popular revolt against the Shah of Iran in 1979 resulted in the theocratic dictatorship that still rules Iran.
Now that Mubarak has said he will not seek reelection in September, how much time is there for a truly democratic alternative to emerge and coalesce?
Given the violence which has erupted in Cairo and calls for Mubarak to leave sooner than later, will he actually leave and remove the stigma of his past election frauds from September’s scheduled election?
Will the Egyptian military, which is generally well-respected in Egypt, step in temporarily to restore calm and to run the country until the fall election?
The answer to these questions may well determine Egypt’s future as well as that of Israel and the United States. The shape of the Middle Eastern “neighborhood” will likely be established in the coming weeks and months.

Republican Rep. Elton Gallegly represents Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in Congress and is Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration.
An Egyptian Activist, WikiLeaks, and the Next Generation
February 4, 2011 11:15 A.M.
By Rep. Ed Royce

Hundreds of thousands are protesting in central Cairo, demanding that President Mubarak exit. I’m betting that a young man I met a few years ago is among them.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this brave Egyptian activist as things in pivotal Egypt have gone from simmer to boil.

Like a lot of my meetings, this one happened by chance. A southern California group I know, Gen Next, was associated with his travel to the U.S., and asked me to meet him. Sure. So he ended up in my office one morning, where we talked Egypt for an hour.

Though it was over two years ago, I remember our talk distinctly. Partly because he was so impressive. Partly because he was concerned about his safety upon returning to Egypt. A fear not unfounded.

WikiLeaks has posted a U.S. embassy read-out of this activist’s U.S. visit. At least they block out his name (opposition leaders in Zimbabwe weren’t so lucky). The cable recounts how he was searched by Egyptian security upon returning. His notes and Capitol Hill schedule, including our meeting, were confiscated.

What I remember most was discussing Egypt’s years of economic decay. I gave him a copy of Hernando de Soto’s groundbreaking The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. The Peruvian economist identifies private property and title as key to economic success. (As for Egypt, de Soto found that, after all the red tape, it would take more than ten years to legally obtain property there.)

I’ve given this book to many visitors and interns in my office. None seemed so moved by the gesture as this young man.

I also remember his central message, which can be summed up as “Don’t do anything — don’t support the government and don’t support the opposition, just steer clear.” This young man discounted the prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood seizing power. I’m not so sure he’s right. It always seems that the more organized and ruthless movement takes hold. Let’s hope he’s right.

It’s now all too clear that we should have been supporting more Egyptians like this young man. I hope he’s safe.
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