MIAMI (CBS4) – Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said she is thrilled to see change come to Egypt but is concerned where that change will lead.

She said the protesters achieved their goal of forcing President Hosni Mubarak to leave office after 30 years — handing power over to the military for the time being — but she said those calling for change must make sure that neither Islamic extremists nor the military gains control.

“Will (protesters) move toward democracy and make sure they have free and fair elections and multi-party elections or will they let the military take over and then all the great strides they’ve made have been for naught,” Ros-Lehtinen said a news conference at the Miami International Airport Friday.

She fears that if elections are held quickly an established group like the Muslim Brotherhood could easily win election.

“All too often we have seen the process get hijacked by extremist elements,” she said. “We certainly hope in this leadership vacuum that the Muslim Brotherhood does not exploit the wishes of the people of Egypt and because they have been the only organized group that they will be able to sail into an electoral spot.”

She also cautioned that the upheaval in Egypt could have enormous consequences with Israel, which shares a border with Egypt and negotiated a peace treaty with the country in 1979.

“Israel’s survival depends on having peace continue with its’ neighbors,” she said. “For Israel what happens in Egypt in the next few days of this transition and the next few weeks of this transition, will determine its’ fate.”

However, Ros-Lehtinen is hopeful that the scenes in Cairo of protesters demanding change after years of high unemployment, low wages, government corruption and few freedoms could lead to similar scenes in other nations in the Middle East.

“It could be a very liberating period right now,” she said. “We want those seeds of democracy that the people have spread in (Tahrir) Square to go to Yemen and to go to Saudi Arabia and to go to the United Arab Emirates and to go everywhere in the region.”

Egyptians living in South Florida are also concerned about whether democracy can flourish in Egypt after years of autocratic rule.

Father Timotheus Soliman, of St. John the Baptist Coptic Orthodox Church, says Egyptians will need to be shown how democracy works.

“We cannot lead the people to walk in the path of democracy without learning what is attached to democracy, especially when there is a fear of Islamization,” he told CBS 4 News.

Ros-Lehtinen said the U.S. has pledged to assist Egypt in any way it can. She said the U.S. sends more than a billion dollars to Egypt each year for military aid, which gives the U.S. a great deal of leverage.

“We hope the people of Egypt make the right choice and will use their heads and their heart to vote for moderate candidates,” she said.

Comments (11)
  1. Carla says:

    She is a Rino..Better to be aware,what happen in this Country..No waiting for Obama’s phone calls & wrong causes

  2. Oscar says:

    It is going the way of Cuba.Islamic elements are going to take over and turn it into an islamic republic ala Iran.That is what happened in Cuba and Venezuela and all the other countries that the USA supported and then to do the “right thing” withdrew its support and ended in the hands of extreme groups.Within a year there will be a war with Israel and Israel will win again and it will catastrophic for Europe and the USA where muslims will start doing terrorist acts to show its anger for the support that Europe and the USA will show for Israel.This is the worse thing that could happen to the world.In fact the muslim oil producing countries will be obliged to boycott Europe and the USA to the benefit of Russia.The benefit will be that the USA will have to very quickly develop more sources of energy and increase its oil production.

  3. Skip Chipowski says:

    Chairman of the US House FA Committee talks about the change in Egypt and her only comments relate to the impact on Israel. Hey Ileana, what about the impact on your constituents? We’re not Israelis! We’re Americans! You know Land of Brave, Home of the Free…..the people who write your paycheck. What about the impact on the USA? Unfortunately for Ileana, she’s an Israel-first, America-second kinda gal.

    1. Ellie says:

      What happens to Israel does affect the U.S. Ileana is spot on yet again.

  4. sfloridavoter says:

    Skip Chipowski

    Kudos, you nailed it!

  5. yokolee says:

    We all know she doesnt care about the people of Egypt, her main concern is the people of Israel, SAD!

  6. Infidel says:

    I have the same concern about Cuba. Are they ready for democracy? Do they have the capacity for it based on the example they lead in the USA? What will happen when another revolution brings change to currently Communist Cuba? Can you imagine Cuban Brotherhood which is running Miami Banana Republic and also put Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in office would be in power in Cuba as well? What a nightmare that would be, would USA be safe with Cuban Brotherhood at the helm in post Communist Cuba? I say it would be a cesspool.

  7. Straighttothepoint says:

    The Cuban Revolution happened because the Cuban gaovernment was corrupt. Cuba was the Mafia’s playground. The President of Cuba and his cronies ran like rats WITH the national treasury. If this was not the people’s revolution, why didn’t they stay and fight for their country? Even now, having been elected to high office in this county, they persist in punishing the Cuban people with the “embargo”, No respect for you Ileana, or anything you have to say!!!!

  8. henry says:

    Well said. Well said, G. Hill. She is worthless. Shes just a talker.

  9. Jerry Talerico says:

    This women calls her self a representative of the people? WHy doen’t she work for the people in her district and stop worrying about a sovereign nation.

    She should focus on preventing job losses, creating jobs, and ridding the corruption which is her district. I really hope the voters wake up and vote this useless non-American out of office once and for alll!

    1. Juan says:

      Yes, u r right!!!

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