Category Archives: Egypt

Egypt’s Sisi: It’s Time to Correct NATO’s Mistakes in Libya

All Africa reports:

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said on Monday that it is time to correct the mistakes made by the NATO in Libya.

“The NATO operation in Libya was not complete, which led the North African country to fall under the control of militant and extremist groups,” Sisi said during his meeting with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Sisi’s remarks came after the Egyptian air force carried out earlier on Monday airstrikes on Daesh hotbeds in Libya in retaliation to the beheading of 21 Egyptian nationals who had been kidnapped in the Libyan city of Sirte.’

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Libyan Chaos and the Un-Islamic State: Interview with Vijay Prashad

Editor’s Note: Vijay Prashad is a historian, journalist and commentator. He is the author of many books including “Arab Spring, Libyan Winter” ( which you can download here). In this interview, recorded Feb 17/18th, Prashad states that the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya destroyed the Libyan state and created the conditions for radical Islamist groups to thrive. He also says that Libya today reminds him of Afghanistan 25 years ago after the Soviet withdrawl which was awash with weapons and fighters jostling for control of the country

Islamic State Sprouting Limbs Beyond Its Base Raising Fears of Unending War

Eric Schmitt and David D Kirkpatrick report for The New York Times:

‘The Islamic State is expanding beyond its base in Syria and Iraq to establish militant affiliates in Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt and Libya, American intelligence officials assert, raising the prospect of a new global war on terror.

Intelligence officials estimate that the group’s fighters number 20,000 to 31,500 in Syria and Iraq. There are less formal pledges of support from “probably at least a couple hundred extremists” in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen, according to an American counterterrorism official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential information about the group.

[…] But it is unclear how effective these affiliates are, or to what extent this is an opportunistic rebranding by some jihadist upstarts hoping to draft new members by playing off the notoriety of the Islamic State.’

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A Libyan front in the war on ISIS may not be all it seems

Mary Dejevsky writes for The Guardian:

[…] For a government led by a former general, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who took power in what was essentially a military coup and faces seething discontent at home, the temptations of engaging in an external conflict are obvious. Yet this would be to jump ahead, perhaps much further and faster than is justified.

Indeed, the least reliable conclusion from the events of the weekend is probably the most obvious one: the claim that the perpetrators represent the same Islamic State that has cut a swath through northern Iraq and Syria. If anything, the claim underlines rather the nature of Isis as a collection of affiliates, a forbidding – and thus useful – brand name designed to scare enemies with its invocation of a larger cause. Its fundamentalist objectives may be shared, but its geographical sweep is not what it might appear: the actual territory held by Isis, and its degree of organisation, should not be exaggerated.’

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Libya and Egypt launch air strikes against ISIS after militants post beheadings video

Jared Malsin and Chris Stephen report for The Guardian:

Egypt reported that its war planes had struck Isis targets in Libya, shortly after President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi vowed revenge for the release by Isis-affiliated militants of a video of a mass killing of Christians.

A spokesman for the Armed Forces General Command announced the strikes on state radio Monday, marking the first time Cairo had publicly acknowledged taking military action in neighbouring Libya.

The statement said the warplanes targeted weapons caches and training camps before returning safely. It said the strikes were “to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers”.’

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Egypt Releases Two Al Jazeera Reporters After 411 Days in Jail

‘Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from Cairo as Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are ordered released on bail after over a year in prison. Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian citizen, was the acting bureau chief for Al Jazeera English when he was arrested in December 2013 along with Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed. All three were charged with spreading false news and aiding terrorists. They were sentenced last June to between seven and 10 years in prison, a ruling struck a severe blow to press freedom in Egypt and sparked condemnation from around the world. The court said the case against Fahmy and Mohamed is still pending.’ (Democracy Now!)

Russian anthem FAIL during Putin’s visit to Egypt

Grossly Hypocritical For Egypt, Turkey and Russia to Attend Charlie Hebdo March, says Reporters Without Borders

Louise Ridley reports for The Huffington Post:

Leaders from Egypt, Turkey and Russia are grossly hypocritical for attending today’s Paris march for the journalists murdered at Charlie Hebdo magazine when they continue to persecute journalists in their own countries, according to a journalists’ charity.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) says it is “appalled” that leaders of countries including United Arab Emirates were present. It accused them of trying to “improve their international image” while “spitting on the graves” of the cartoonists and journalists.

[…] RWB secretary-general Christophe Deloire said: “It would be unacceptable if representatives of countries that silence journalists were to take advantage of the current outpouring of emotion to try to improve their international image and then continue their repressive policies when they return home.

“We must not let predators of press freedom spit on the graves of Charlie Hebdo.”’

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Who Should Be Blamed For Muslim Terrorism?

Andrew Vltchek writes for CounterPunch:

A hundred years ago, it would have been unimaginable to have a pair of Muslim men enter a cafe or a public transportation vehicle, and then blow themselves up, killing dozens. Or to massacre the staff of a satirical magazine in Paris! Things like that were simply not done.

When you read the memoirs of Edward Said, or talk to old men and women in East Jerusalem, it becomes clear that the great part of Palestinian society used to be absolutely secular and moderate. It cared about life, culture, and even fashion, more than about religious dogmas.

The same could be said about many other Muslim societies, including those of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Indonesia. Old photos speak for themselves. That is why it is so important to study old images again and again, carefully.

Islam is not only a religion; it is also an enormous culture, one of the greatest on Earth, which has enriched our humanity with some of the paramount scientific and architectural achievements, and with countless discoveries in the field of medicine. Muslims have written stunning poetry, and composed beautiful music. But above all, they developed some of the earliest social structures in the world, including enormous public hospitals and the first universities on earth, like The University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco.

The idea of ‘social’ was natural to many Muslim politicians, and had the West not brutally interfered, by overthrowing left-wing governments and putting on the throne fascist allies of London, Washington and Paris; almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders.’

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21st-century censorship: Governments around the world are using stealthy strategies to manipulate the media

Philip Bennett and Moises Naim report for Columbia Review of Journalism:

Two beliefs safely inhabit the canon of contemporary thinking about journalism. The first is that the internet is the most powerful force disrupting the news media. The second is that the internet and the communication and information tools it spawned, like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, are shifting power from governments to civil society and to individual bloggers, netizens, or “citizen journalists.”

It is hard to disagree with these two beliefs. Yet they obscure evidence that governments are having as much success as the internet in disrupting independent media and determining the information that reaches society. Moreover, in many poor countries or in those with autocratic regimes, government actions are more important than the internet in defining how information is produced and consumed, and by whom.

Illustrating this point is a curious fact: Censorship is flourishing in the information age. In theory, new technologies make it more difficult, and ultimately impossible, for governments to control the flow of information. Some have argued that the birth of the internet foreshadowed the death of censorship. In 1993, John Gilmore, an internet pioneer, told Time, “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”

Today, many governments are routing around the liberating effects of the internet. Like entrepreneurs, they are relying on innovation and imitation. In countries such as Hungary, Ecuador, Turkey, and Kenya, officials are mimicking autocracies like Russia, Iran, or China by redacting critical news and building state media brands. They are also creating more subtle tools to complement the blunt instruments of attacking journalists.

As a result, the internet’s promise of open access to independent and diverse sources of information is a reality mostly for the minority of humanity living in mature democracies.’

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Worse than the dictators: Egypt’s leaders bring pillars of freedom crashing down

Patrick Kingsley writes for The Guardian:

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi reviews a guard of honour after being sworn in as president of Egypt in June.‘Egypt is enacting authoritarian laws at a rate unmatched by any regime for 60 years, legal specialists from four institutions have told the Guardian.

Since the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, Morsi’s successors in the presidency, Adly Mansour and Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, have used the absence of an elected parliament to almost unilaterally issue a series of draconian decrees that severely restrict freedom of expression, association and assembly.

The speed at which the decrees have been issued outpaces legislative frenzies under the dictators Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, and is matched only by the period that followed the toppling of the Egyptian monarchy in 1952, according to Amr Shalakany, associate law professor at the American University in Cairo; Amr Abdulrahman, director of civil liberties at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights; Mohamed Elhelw, head of legal research at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms; and Ahmed Ezzat, a human rights lawyer, and previously a legal researcher at another prominent rights group.’

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Al Jazeera staff held for one year in Egypt

Human Rights Groups in Egypt Brace for Crackdown Under New Law

David D. Kirkpatrick reports for The New York Times:

‘Egyptian rights advocates and nonprofit groups are bracing for a crackdown and fleeing the country, but the official who oversees them says there is nothing to fear.

It depends in large part on how prosecutors will apply a sweeping law decreed by the new military-backed president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as a tool to fight terrorism. Rights activists say the new rule is a sign that the crackdown on dissent following last year’s military takeover is making Egypt a stricter and more repressive police state than at any other time in the last 35 years.

“Everyone in civil society is panicking,” said Ragia Omran, a prominent human rights lawyer.

The new law imposes a potential life sentence for the crime of intending to “harm the national interest,” “compromise national unity” or “breach security or public peace,” if it involves receiving money from abroad. Foreign funding is how virtually every credible human rights group here has subsisted for decades because of the legal and practical obstacles to domestic fund-raising under Egypt’s authoritarian governments.’

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In US-Supported Egypt, 188 Protesters Are Sentenced to Die Days After Mubarak is Effectively Freed

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - In US-Supported Egypt, 188 Protesters Are Sentenced to Die Days After Mubarak is Effectively Freed‘Ever since then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led a coup against the country’s elected president, Mohamed Morsi, the coup regime has become increasingly repressive, brutal and lawless. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, the Obama administration has become increasingly supportive of the despot in Cairo, plying his regime with massive amounts of money and weapons and praising him (in the words of John Kerry) for “restoring democracy.” Following recent meetings with Sisi by Bill and Hillary Clinton (pictured above), and then Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright, Obama himself met with the dictator in late September and “touted the longstanding relationship between the United States and Egypt as a cornerstone of American security policy in the Middle East.”

All of this occurs even as, in the words of a June report from Human Rights Watch, the Sisi era has included the “worst incident of mass unlawful killings in Egypt’s recent history” and “judicial authorities have handed down unprecedented large-scale death sentences and security forces have carried out mass arrests and torture that harken back to the darkest days of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule.” The New York Times editorialized last month that “Egypt today is in many ways more repressive than it was during the darkest periods of the reign of deposed strongman Hosni Mubarak.”’

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Egypt to criminalize ‘insulting revolutions’

The Associated Press reports:

‘[…] Just what would constitute an insult however was unclear, as was the timeframe for the legislation’s implementation. Such a law, however, would infringe on the freedom of expression guaranteed by the nation’s new constitution. It follows an intense, yearlong media campaign to denigrate the 2011 uprising and paint those behind it as foreign agents.

Many of those who participated in the 2011 uprising also supported massive street demonstrations in June 2013 accusing Morsi of monopolizing power and demanding his resignation, but were later targeted by a crackdown that saw many of their leaders jailed.’

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Egyptian court dismisses charges against former President Hosni Mubarak

Journalists Detained for Talking Politics in Cairo Cafe

Robert Mackey reports for The New York Times:

Two years ago, as the forces of revolution and counterrevolution struggled for control in Egypt, a mysterious public service announcement warned Egyptians against the seemingly innocuous behavior of chatting with foreigners in cafes.

The ad, which seemed to equate grumbling to foreign journalists with revealing state secrets to spies, was widely mocked by young Internet activists as a crude attempt by Egypt’s security services to instill paranoia in the public on the eve of the country’s first free presidential election.

After it was shown a few times on public and private television channels, the ad was pulled from the airwaves in June 2012, but an event this week in Cairo suggested that its message still resonates.

As the Cairene news site Mada Masr reported, a prominent French journalist and two Egyptian companions were detained and questioned by the police in the capital on Tuesday after a concerned citizen overheard them discussing local politics in a cafe and reported them to the authorities.’

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Egypt signals parliament election to be held by March

Reuters reports:

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has told visiting U.S. businessmen that a parliamentary election will be held by March, his spokesman said on Tuesday, trying to reassure them that the delayed poll would not be put off indefinitely.

Egypt has been without a parliament since June 2012, when a court dissolved the democratically elected main chamber, reversing a major accomplishment of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Under Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, legislative power was transferred to the upper house pending a fresh election. But before that poll took place, Mursi was toppled by the army following protests against his rule.’

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Why George Orwell is trending in Egypt

BBC News writes:

‘It has been over six decades since Eric Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, published 1984, his acclaimed novel about life under the totalitarian rule of the ever watchful ‘Big Brother’. The book even led to a new adjective, ‘Orwellian,’ to describe life under oppressive state power. So when a newspaper in Egypt reported that the police had arrested a student for carrying the book, it was immediately seized upon by activists. The author’s name is now trending on Twitter in Egypt.

The initial report in the Al Masry al Youm newspaper on Sunday claimed that a student at Cairo University was arrested “for carrying” the book. The student was also carrying material supportive of Islamic State, according to the report.

But it was Orwell’s book that people on social media picked up on.’

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Egypt Leader: ‘Foreign Hands’ Behind Sinai Attack

Maggie Michael and Maamoun Youssef report for the Associated Press:

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, responding to attacks in Sinai, 25 October 2014‘Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Saturday that an assault on an army checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 31 troops was a “foreign-funded operation” and vowed to take drastic action against militants.

In thundering remarks delivered before cameras ahead of a military funeral for the slain troops, el-Sissi said there are foreign powers that want to “break the back of Egypt,” without elaborating. He vowed to take drastic measures to uproot the militants and said Egypt is engaged in an “extensive war” that will last a long time.

“There is a big conspiracy against us,” he said while standing with army commanders ahead of the funeral.’

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Carter Center shuts Egypt office over rights concerns

BBC News reports:

Former US President Jimmy Carter observes Egypt's presidential election in Cairo on 24 May 2012‘A human rights group founded by former US President Jimmy Carter has closed its office in Egypt because of the restrictions on democratic rights.

The Carter Center also said it would not send a mission to observe this year’s parliamentary elections. It cited the “crackdown on dissidents, opposition groups, and critical journalists, together with heightened restrictions on core freedoms”.

The organisation opened an office in Cairo after the 2011 uprising. It sought to support the country’s democratic transition after President Hosni Mubarak was deposed.’

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In Egypt, an authoritarian regime holds sway again

Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian novelist and political commentator, writes for The Guardian:

‘Since 30 June 2013, some 40,000 people have been arrested and 16,000 of them remain in prison. The majority probably belong to the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, of whom some will have committed acts of violence; most will not. The rest, maybe 8,000 or 9,000, are split between revolutionary activists and bystanders caught up in police dragnets and used to make up required figures.

The state is commandeering every resource to establish control over the country. And even establishments that had their own intifadas during Mubarak’s time – for example, the judiciary, the universities, the media – have scampered into the fold. It’s not quite that they’re toeing the government line, but more that they have identified their own interests with “stability” and against “revolutionary change”.

A shocking manifestation of this confluence of interests is how judges and prosecutors work seamlessly with the ministry of the interior. Police drag people into custody, prosecution charges them from a now famous menu of “destructive” activities, judges decree their imprisonment on remand, postpone their trials month after month and then pass ridiculous and patently unjust sentences.

Most of the political prisoners are young. An estimated 1,000 minors, for example, across nine governorates, are in prison. And an estimated 2,000 students. Every case has its individuality, its absurdity, its heartbreak. Together, it adds up to a war on the young.’

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Egypt’s U.S-Backed Military Regime is Brutalizing Student Protestors

Murtaza Hussain writes for The Intercept:

Just a few short months after John Kerry disingenuously congratulated Egypt’s military junta for “transitioning to democracy”, the young students who helped galvanize the 2011 Egyptian Revolution are back protesting its increasingly draconian rule. Campus protests have broken out in several major cities calling for the release of imprisoned student activists and for the removal of new limits on academic freedom imposed by the regime.

As part of wide-ranging campaign to stifle popular dissent, the government of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has recently given itself broad powers to directly appoint university heads, dismiss faculty without the possibility of appeal, and force students to sign documents promising “not to participate in political activities” in their housing applications. Private security firms have also been hired to enforce order on campus and monitor activists.

Predictably, these measures have led to outrage among students – and equally as predictable, their protests have been met with harsh retribution from the military regime.’

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After Feigning Love for Egyptian Democracy, US Back To Openly Supporting Tyranny

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - After Feigning Love for Egyptian Democracy, U.S. Back To Openly Supporting Tyranny‘It is, of course, very difficult to choose the single most extreme episode of misleading American media propaganda, but if forced to do so, coverage of the February, 2011 Tahrir Square demonstrations in Egypt would be an excellent candidate. For weeks, U.S. media outlets openly positioned themselves on the side of the demonstrators, depicting the upheaval as a Manichean battle between the evil despot Hosni Mubarak’s “three decades of iron rule” and the hordes of ordinary, oppressed Egyptians inspirationally yearning for American-style freedom and democracy.

Almost completely missing from this feel-good morality play was the terribly unpleasant fact that Mubarak was one of the U.S. Government’s longest and closest allies and that his ”three decades of iron rule” — featuring murder, torture and indefinite detention for dissidents — were enabled in multiple ways by American support.’

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El-Sissi: Had I stood by, radical Islam would have sparked Egypt civil war

Hamza Hendawi, Ian Phillips, and Lee Keath report for The Associated Press:

‘Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi told The Associated Press on Saturday he is prepared to give whatever support is needed in the fight against the Islamic State group but called for a “comprehensive strategy” to tackle the roots of extremism across the region

In his first interview with a foreign media outlet since taking office in June, el-Sissi sought to present himself and Egypt as at the vanguard of confronting militancy, citing it as the reason for his ouster of Egypt’s first freely elected president more than a year ago — a move that brought international criticism and strained ties with top ally the United States.

He told AP that Egyptians had realized the danger of “political Islam” and that if he had not acted, the Arab world’s most populous nation would have faced “civil war” and bloodshed now seen in Iraq and Syria.’

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Ex-Egyptian minister: We warned US ahead of 9/11

Gavriel Fiske reports for The Times of Israel:

‘In the weeks ahead of the September 11 attacks in 2001, Egypt warned the Bush administration repeatedly about an imminent large-scale terror attack to be carried out by al-Qaeda operatives on US soil, but the message was ignored, a former high-ranking Egyptian government official said

Habib al-Adly, who served from 1997 to 2011 as minister of the interior for the Mubarak government, said in court testimony that Egypt received intelligence “from inside the al-Qaeda den” that “America would be subject to a huge terror attack.” In testimony last month that was translated and posted online Tuesday by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Adly said the intelligence was verified and analyzed, and then president Hosni Mubarak gave the order to pass it on to the US in May of 2001.

The information was passed to both the CIA and FBI several times, Adly said, as Egyptian intelligence received word that the terror attack was moving from the planning to operation stage.’

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Jailed for Protests, Activists in Egypt and Bahrain Turn to Hunger Strikes

Robert Mackay reports for The New York Times:

‘Three years after they helped lead street protests demanding democracy in Egypt and Bahrain, prominent Arab Spring activists in both nations are now starving themselves in prison, hoping to draw attention to intensifying crackdowns on dissent there.

Following prison visits this week, relatives expressed fears for the health of at least two of the activists on hunger strike: Ahmed Douma, a leader of Egypt’s April 6 Youth movement who was sentenced to three years in prison after the military-backed government banned unsanctioned street protests last year, and Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, the founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who was given a life sentence for his role in the 2011 protests.’

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Egypt and UAE strike Islamist militias in Libya

Anne Gearan reports for The Washington Post:

‘The United Arab Emirates and Egypt have carried out a series of airstrikes in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, U.S. officials said Monday, marking an escalation in the chaotic war among Libya’s rival militias that has driven American and other diplomats from the country.

The Obama administration did not know ahead of time about the highly unusual military intervention, although the United States was aware that action by Arab states might come as the crisis in Libya worsened, said one official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The airstrikes appear tied to fear over the growing muscle of Islamist militias. The region’s monarchies and secular dictatorships are increasingly alarmed about Islamist gains from Libya to Syria and Iraq. And the airstrikes may signal a new willingness by some Arab states to take on a more direct military role in the region’s conflicts.

Various groups in Libya have been battling for control of the main Tripoli airport, and the strikes may have been a failed attempt to keep the strategic facility from falling to extremists.’

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The World’s Most Repressive Regimes Delight In U.S. Crack Down In Ferguson

Hayes Brown writes for Think Progress:

Police advance after tear gas was used to disperse a crowd of protesters in Ferguson, MO on Sunday‘After years of being critiqued for its own crackdowns against dissidents, China has begun to use the ongoing clashes between police and protesters and police in Ferguson, MO as a way to lambaste the United States for hypocrisy, joining other repressive regimes in expressing no small amount of schadenfreude at the current situation.

The Chinese government either directly owns or oversees all media within the country, including the Xinhua news service. As such, the op-ed published on Monday from commentator Li Li can be read as being an unofficial statement from Beijing. In the article, Li takes the United States to task for not yet realizing Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream, noting that “despite the progress, racial divide still remains a deeply-rooted chronic disease that keeps tearing U.S. society apart, just as manifested by the latest racial riot in Missouri.”’

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Tony Blair’s Egypt links in spotlight after HRW report on Rab’a Massacre

Chris Green reports for The Independent:

‘Tony Blair’s close ties to the Egyptian government have been called into question after some of the country’s key officials were accused of collaborating in the “widespread and systematic” killings of more than 1,000 protesters. A year-long investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that Egyptian security forces “systematically and deliberately” killed large numbers of mainly unarmed demonstrators who had gathered in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo last August to protest about the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi.

The group said the massacre was as bad as Tiananmen Square and that it “likely amounted to crimes against humanity”. It called for several senior Egyptian officials to be investigated for their role in the incident – including the country’s current President, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who was defence minister at the time. Tony Blair, who is a Middle East peace envoy, supported the coup against president Morsi and has voiced his support for the new Egyptian government. He is also acting as an informal adviser to Mr al-Sisi on economic reform.’

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