Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered an inquiry into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood to determine whether it is using London as a base for planning extremist attacks after the military crackdown in Egypt, officials and news media reports said on Tuesday.
In the past, British governments have moved against small Islamic militant groups, but have tended to cast the Brotherhood, a prominent Islamic organization, in a different, more moderate light, particularly after Mohamed Morsi, the Brotherhood’s candidate, was elected Egypt’s president in 2012. Mr. Morsi was overthrown last year by the Egyptian military, and Egypt and Saudi Arabia have since declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
…The inquiry, to be led by Sir John Jenkins, Britain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, is to complete its investigation by midsummer, officials said… It comes amid pressure from Egypt and Saudi Arabia for Britain to outlaw the organization, but an official said the aim of the inquiry was “not about establishing evidence to proscribe” the group. Mr. Morsi and hundreds of his followers are facing trial in Egypt.
…The first round of executions, ordered Monday, covered 529 pro-Morsi protesters, ordered killed as “terrorists” because a protest led to the death of a single junta police officer.
The international community barely had time to express outrage at that before the same judge was given another mass trial of supporters of the ousted election government, this time 683 more facing execution on similar pretexts.
Not stopping there, the junta’s chief prosecutor announced two new mass trials of “suspected Islamists,” one covering 715 people accused of involvement in rallies against government buildings in August, and another of 204 detainees accused of “inciting violence” by opposing the summer coup.
- Medea Benjamin: Egypt Kangaroo Court Sentences 529 Morsi Supporters to Death
- U.N. says mass Egyptian death sentences contravene international law
- Protests over trials of Muslim Brotherhood members erupt in Alexandria
- Aly el-Kabbany: Egypt judiciary politically oriented, engulfed in corruption
- Egypt’s Courts Further Repression With Journalists on Trial and Mass Death Sentence for Morsi Supporters: Interview with Sharif Abdel Kouddous
- Due Process ‘Impossible’ In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members: Interview with Mohamed Elmeshad
Abdel-Fatteh al-Sissi, the Egyptian military chief who last summer removed the elected Islamist president, announced Wednesday that he has resigned from the military and will run for president in elections scheduled for next month.
In a nationally televised speech, Sissi appeared in his military uniform, saying that it was the last time he would wear it because he was giving it up “to defend the nation” by running for president. He said he was “responding to a call from the people.”
Egyptian law says only civilians can run for president, so his resignation from the military, as well as his posts of military chief and defense minister, was a required step.
Sissi is widely expected to win the vote, after months of nationalist fervor since he removed Mohammed Morsi, who in 2012 became Egypt’s first freely elected and civilian president.
…The concern in Egypt is about the potential threat to its dominance over the Nile.
Egypt fears Ethiopia’s dam will restrict the flow of this strategic waterway – the main source of water in a country where rainfall is scarce.
The row started in 2011, and Egypt has been worried ever since that its annual quota of the Nile water might be reduced.
This conflict comes at a time when different parts of Egypt are already suffering from a shortage of water. In the northern Nile Delta, the agricultural heart of Egypt, a lot of farmers are waiting with a heavy heart to see if they will be able to cultivate their land next summer.
- Egypt Just Handed Out The Largest Death Sentence in Its Modern History
- Egypt dissident released on bail in possible sign government is easing crackdown
- Al-Jazeera journalist jailed in Egypt loses full use of arm
- Media crackdown more severe for Egyptian journalists
- Egypt crackdown brings most arrests in decades
- Egypt military chief reshuffles commanders
- Egyptian man arrested for Facebook correspondence with Israeli
- Egypt leftist tells army to stay out of politics
- The Coca-Cola cover up: Egypt police van ‘disguised’
- Former Egyptian General Calls Promise of Free Elections a ‘Farce’
- Egyptian candidate questions Sisi’s commitment to democracy
- Egypt ex-PM: presidential poll will be fixed
- Dubai’s Arabtec to build one million flats for Egyptian army
- Egypt army ‘AIDS detector’ instead finds ridicule
- Did State Department Fail American Peace Activist When She Was Detained at Cairo Airport?
- UN calls on Cairo to end human rights violations
- Egypt human rights group decries police violence
- Egypt Court Bans Hamas
- First woman to head a political party in Egypt says it proves the revolution has changed attitudes
- Egypt criticises ‘US appointing itself human rights advocate’
- Egyptians use Muslim Brotherhood crackdown to settle scores
Robert Fisk: Pluralism was once the hallmark of the Arab world, so the exodus of Christians from the Middle East is painful to one Islamic scholar
Tarif Khalidi is a big, bearded bear of a man, the kind you would always choose to play Father Christmas, or perhaps a Cossack leader sweeping across the Russian steppe, reins in one hand, sword in the other. But Tarif – or Uncle Tarif as I invariably call him – is an Islamic scholar, the most recent translator of the Koran and author of a wonderful book of Muslim stories about Jesus. I am thus surprised – but after a few seconds not at all surprised – to hear how well this Palestinian from Jerusalem got on with the Imam Musa Sadr, the Shia leader in southern Lebanon who did more to lift his people from squalor than any I can think of – until Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had him murdered in Libya in 1978.
“He took on the Christians of Lebanon in an extraordinary manner,” Tarif says. “He revived Islamic interest in Jesus and Mary. He was an extraordinary performer. He almost embraced Christian theology. He would lecture in churches with the cross right behind him!” But as we weave our way between religions, I realise what is grieving this most burly of professors – he teaches at the American University of Beirut – as he speaks slowly and eloquently of the almost biblical exodus of Christians from the Middle East.
[...] Revolutionaries must have some idea of what they are going to do once they have displaced the powers-that-be. It is not enough to say that anything is better than the status quo, particularly, as happened in Egypt and Syria, when people find their lives are getting worse. What happens when foreign powers, once so eager to support the risen people, want a share of the political cake? The success of those first uprisings meant that the revolutionaries, always better on tactics than strategy, had lethally few ideas about what to do next.
But the formula that brought them to power still works. In the past eight months, governments in Turkey, Thailand and Ukraine have been destabilised by prolonged mass protests. In the case of Egypt a giant demonstration on 30 June led directly to – and was portrayed as giving legitimacy to – a military coup on 3 July. In Istanbul it was Taksim Square and in Kiev it was Independence Square that were the stages on which revolutionary dramas were played. But what is at issue now is very different from 2011. This is not obvious, because television reporters often produce the same simple-minded story as before. Downplayed and even unstated in reports from Kiev, Cairo, Bangkok and Istanbul was that this time the protesters were confronting democratically elected leaders.
‘Egypt’s arrest and trial of three Al-Jazeera journalists, charged with assisting the Muslim Brotherhood, has prompted outcry around the world. The case helps highlight growing dangers to journalists worldwide, especially in countries caught in war or turmoil. In 2013, 119 members of the press died while on assignment. Alison Bethel McKenzie of the International Press Institute and David Rohde of Reuters join Jeffrey Brown to discuss the hazards.’ (PBS Newshour)
Saudi Arabia’s surprise announcement on Friday to declare the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization is an attempt to strike the group at their weakest moment – and an attempt to kick start worldwide condemnation towards the group, an analyst said. The blacklisting of the group comes soon after the kingdom – along with Bahrain and the UAE – withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, a known backer of former Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi’s Brotherhood-led government. The ban is an attempt to strike the group at their weakest moment, according to Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of political science at UAE University.
“They [the Muslim Brotherhood] have lost so much as a result of the crackdown in Egypt and the dismantling of their leadership, so I think the time is probably right [to ban them],” said Abdulla. By joining Egypt in designating the group as a terrorist organization, the kingdom may be able to persuade Western governments to blacklist the group – further weakening its power, the analyst said. “Probably if you have the UAE joining in, and others, probably this will send a message to west, to London and Washington, this is probably going to be a masterstroke from the Saudis,” he told Al Arabiya.
Egypt’s new prime minister said on Tuesday he would seek to eradicate militant violence that has increased since the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, hoping improved security will lead to economic recovery. Speaking after his appointment by Adly Mansour, Ibrahim Mahlab, the army-appointed president since Morsi’s removal in July, said he hoped to form his government within three or four days.
“We will work together to restore security and safety to Egypt and crush terrorism in all corners of the country,” said Mahlab, formerly the housing minister, expressing hope for a recovery in the crucial tourism sector. “Security and stability in the entire country and crushing terrorism will pave the way for investment.”
Mahlab’s appointment followed the surprise resignation of prime minister Hazem el-Beblawi’s government on Monday. Bombings and shootings by militant Islamist groups have become commonplace since the army deposed Morsi after mass protests against his rule.
- Independent Journalism Now Considered ‘Terrorism’ in Egypt
- Egypt Junta Orders ‘Mass Tribunal’ for 504 Detained Foes
- Egypt’s Morsi urges revolution from court
- Jingoistic nationalism replaces revolution in Egypt
- Islamist leader: Egypt became ‘republic of fear’
- Egypt breaks up Muslim Brotherhood “military wing”
- Egypt mosques: Weekly sermon themes set by government
- Egypt cracks down on online dissent
- Egypt court acquits police of 2011 killings
- Egypt’s Security Forces Once Again Using Virginity Tests On Female Detainees
- The Egyptian revolution still grinds on
- Three Years Later, Tahrir Protesters Drained And Defeated
Egypt faces plenty of threats, from a growing insurgency in the Sinai to a shaky and still unstable presidential regime. But the dramatic reversal in the country’s energy fortunes in recent years, and the stark challenges that poses for the economy could end up proving the biggest headache for strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Before the Arab Spring, Egypt turned its abundant reserves of natural gas, the third largest in Africa, into lucrative exports shipped to Europe and Asia. It sent gas by pipeline to neighboring countries, including Jordan and Israel. It had ambitious plans to further develop offshore natural gas resources, and was expanding its creaky electricity system on the back of natural-gas fired power plants.
Today, Egypt is scrambling to import natural gas just to meet skyrocketing domestic demand. Exports have plummeted: One of the two terminals that liquefied natural gas and shipped it to southern Europe has been shuttered since 2012; the other is wheezing, starved of gas for export by voracious demand at home.
In a sign of just how quickly Egypt’s once-advantageous position has changed, there are reportedly talks underway to import gas from Israel — less than two years after Cairo shut off exports headed there. The abrupt reversal is a result of unsustainable economic policies, such as generously subsidized fuel prices at home that spur unbridled growth in gas consumption. And it’s one big cause for concern about Sisi’s ability to tackle the country’s economic challenges.
Egypt has a new prime minister—and he is, of all people, the housing minister. Interim president Adly Mansour today asked 65-year-old Ibrahim Mehlib, a former construction magnate and Hosni Mubarak ally, to form a government in the wake of the mass resignation of the previous government. Minutes after the official announcement, Mehlib told reporters that his cabinet members will be “holy warriors” in the service of Egyptians, fighting “day and night” to improve living standards, combat terrorism, and ensure new elections go smoothly. He says he will form his cabinet within three days.
Installing a new government, weeks ahead of the vote, appears to be paving the way for outgoing Defense Minister Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the army’s overthrow of Morsi, to run for the presidency. A government official says el-Sissi will be part of the new cabinet. El-Sissi must leave the military and take off his uniform if he is to run for president. A cult of personality has grown around him, and most observers expect he would sweep the vote if he runs.
- Egypt’s Military Resigns, Awaits Inevitable ‘Election’ to Continue US-Backed Dictatorship
- Egypt, Russia pledge close bilateral relations
- Putin backs Sisi to be president of Egypt
- In rare interview, Mubarak says Egyptians want al-Sissi
- El Sisi’s past may serve him well for future Egypt-US ties
- Popular wave could lift Egypt army chief to office
- Egypt army backs Sisi as presidential candidate
- Egypt Junta to Hold Early Presidential Vote
- Saudi Arabia to give Egypt up to $4bn more aid
- Influential cleric urges Saudis to stop backing Egypt’s dominant military
- Robert Fisk: If only Tony Blair could grasp the truth about Field Marshal Sisi
On Jan. 8, Ethiopia turned down Egypt’s demand that it suspend construction of its mega-dam on the Nile, further escalating tensions between the two states. Fearing that Ethiopia’s $4.2 billion project would reduce the river’s flow, Egypt calls for a halt in construction until the dam’s downstream impact is determined. Otherwise, it has vowed to protect its “historical rights” to the Nile at “any cost.”
While scoffing at Egyptian threats, Ethiopia has called for Cairo’s collaboration in negotiations and claims that the dam will have no adverse effect on Egypt. It would, in fact, decrease evaporation and improve water flow. Ethiopia hopes that the ambitious hydroelectric project, slated to be completed in 2017, would catapult the country out of poverty. Frustrated by what it described as Ethiopia’s stubborn stance, Cairo is threatening to take the issue to the United Nations Security Council.
Is this just standard diplomatic brinkmanship before an inevitable compromise, or a harbinger of a looming water war? Regardless, the lack of progress on the diplomatic front bodes ill for a quick end to a stalemate that has long gripped the region. Home to 600 million people, more than half of Africa’s total population, the Nile Basin is already traumatized by endless internal political strife and mounting pressures to feed a population growing at Malthusian proportions.
However, as ominous as it sounds, the collapse of the talks does not necessarily mean Egypt and Ethiopia will soon be locking horns. Despite suggestions to the contrary, this is simply the waning phase of a protracted diplomatic dance before an inevitable conciliation.
The Egyptian authorities are using every resource at their disposal to quash dissent and trample on human rights, said Amnesty International in a damning new report published ahead of the third anniversary of the “25 January Revolution”.
The briefing entitled Roadmap to repression: No end in sight to human rights violations, paints a bleak picture of the state of rights and liberties in Egypt since the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
“Egypt has witnessed a series of damaging blows to human rights and state violence on an unprecedented scale over the last seven months. Three years on, the demands of the ‘25 January Revolution’ for dignity and human rights seem further away than ever. Several of its architects are behind bars and repression and impunity are the order of the day,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
Across the board the Egyptian authorities have tightened the noose on freedom of expression and assembly. Repressive legislation has been introduced making it easier for the government to silence its critics and crack down on protests. Security forces have been given free rein to act above the law and with no prospect of being held to account for abuses.
- Army general al-Sisi turns anniversary of Tahrir Square uprising into presidential rally
- Protesters killed on anniversary of anti-Mubarak revolt
- Ministry: Car bomb strikes Egypt police base
- Military-backed government bans last opposition newspaper
- Egypt’s censorship of comedian Bassem Youssef sends ‘wrong message’
Egypt’s military chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, plans to resign from his post in the coming days in order to run for president with the army’s backing.
Sisi came to the decision “in light of wide popular demands, in addition to signs of Arab approval, especially from the Gulf,” an informed source told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, in a report published on Tuesday.
The source also said that Sisi made his decision after carefully studying expected “Western reactions, especially American,” to his potential candidacy, and saw that the Pentagon welcomed the move.
The report speculated that the presidential election would be held in March.
[...] As Egypt prepares to celebrate the third anniversary of the Jan.25 revolution which ousted the Mubarak regime, the mood in Davos was slightly skeptical on whether the 2011 revolution has actually achieved its goals.
One of the major concerns was the fact that Egypt’s first post-Mubarak elected president, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohammad Mursi, was also ousted in a counter-revolution which took to the streets last summer. Ever since, Egypt has witnessed the rise of its military strongman, General Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi. In Davos, PM Beblawi publically endorsed Sisi as a candidate for presidency.
Speaking at the Annual Meeting, Bebalwi compared Sisi to De Gualle and Eisenhower, referring to the French and American war heroes, adding that Sisi is “under popular pressure” to run for the presidency.
“Those that are pushing Sisi to run are not the military camps, they are people in the streets, women in the first place,” Beblawi said.
“Don’t forget he is a handsome man,” he added.
Over 98% of participants in the first Egyptian vote of the post-Morsi era voted in favour of approving a new constitution, the country’s electoral commission officially announced on Saturday.
“This is a wonderful day for Egypt, Egyptians and for democracy, despite the extraordinary circumstances,” a spokesman for Egypt’s interim presidency, Ehab Badawi, said in a statement ahead of the official announcement. “This vote represents a resounding rejection of terrorism and a clear endorsement of the roadmap to democracy, as well as economic development and stability.”
After a campaign in which several no-campaigners were arrested and the government said participation was a patriotic duty, the poll’s turnout is also seen as a significant indicator of the level of public support for the process.
According to officials, the turnout was a respectable 38.6% – higher than the 33% who voted in a referendum during Morsi’s tenure, but lower than the 41.9% who turned out in a similar poll following Egypt’s 2011 uprising.
Egypt’s new constitution strengthens the country’s three key institutions – the military, the police and the judiciary. It also gives more rights to women and disabled people, and removes certain Islamist-leaning clauses inserted under Morsi, while maintaining the principles of Islamic sharia as the main source of legislation.
But the referendum was seen less as a poll on the text’s contents, and more of a vote on Egypt’s current leadership.
At the polling station in the impoverished Cairo neighborhood of Imbaba, the contradiction that is Egypt’s democratic transition played out Tuesday. Women, children in hand, celebrated their votes in the country’s referendum on a new constitution with celebratory ululation, while a few feet away a young man sat with his head bowed in fear after military personnel beat him.
Police on the scene said soldiers had struck the man because he’d insulted the military, whose generals now serve as the country’s de facto rulers and had called on voters to endorse the document. The proposed constitution calls for freedom of expression, but the man said he was beaten “because I expressed my opinion.”
Tuesday was the first of two days of balloting on the nation’s newest proposed charter, but the vote lacked the suspense of previous elections held in the three years since the Arab Spring toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak. When balloting ends Wednesday, the constitution is expected to have passed with overwhelming support.
Opponents couldn’t call for voters to say no and couldn’t insult the military without fear of arrest in a country where many think that under the newest government, democratic processes have become a means to codify the return of a police state that millions rose up against when they forced Mubarak from office.
Many called the vote a referendum on the political future of Egypt’s strongman, Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who’s considered the top contender in the still-undeclared presidential elections. The military hailed the vote, with army spokesman Ahmad Mohamed Ali saying the referendum “confirms Egyptians are the first free population in recorded history.”
Egypt’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will run for president if the people request it and the military supports the bid, state media quote him saying.
“If I nominate myself, there must be a popular demand, and a mandate from my army,” state paper Al-Ahram quoted him as telling Egyptian officials.
The general feels he could not stand aside if there was palpable demand for him to run, an official told AFP.
Recent local reports have suggested the general is eyeing a presidential bid.
In a move that could reshape the way the United States deals with post-coup governments, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill that would make it easier to provide aid to countries ruled by military regimes. With an eye toward this summer’s turmoil in Egypt, the bill also requires the executive branch to determine when a democratically-elected government has been removed by force.
On Wednesday [Dec 18th], the Egypt Assistance Reform Act sailed through the committee in a 16-1 vote. Its key backers, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn), said the bill allows the U.S. government to maintain ties with strategically important countries like Egypt while imposing strict restrictions on any financial or military aid to their governments.
“This legislation reaffirms the enduring U.S. commitment to our partnership with the Egyptian government by authorizing continued assistance and endorsing the importance of ongoing cooperation,” said Menendez, chairman of the committee.
But opponents criticized it for lifting restrictions on U.S. aid to unelected military juntas. The committee “voted to weaken existing law and give the president more authority to send billions in aid to countries who violently overthrow their governments and engage in violence against their own citizens,” Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) told The Cable in a statement.
Egypt’s Defense Minister and army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi claimed he was approached in a dream by the late president Anwar Sadat, and was told by Sadat he’d rule the country some day.
In a leaked recording of an interview between the Egyptian defense minister and a reporter for Egypt daily Al-Masry al-Youm, el-Sissi, who oversaw the ousting of Egypt’s Islamist president in the summer, can be heard recounting his fantastical conversation with the late president. Sadat, who signed the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty in 1979, was assassinated in 1981.
El-Sissi also recalled another dream in which he envisioned himself holding a sword with the words “there is no God but Allah,” inscribed in red on its handle.
The interview, which was originally published in October, omitted the peculiar comments attributed to el-Sissi.
- Egypt’s el-Sissi wins TIME Person of the Year reader’s poll
- Former army official: Army leadership cannot be independent from America
- New Egypt draft charter sets powers for military
- Egypt Junta Retains Military Trials for Civilians in New Constitution
- Hagel voices U.S. concern over new Egyptian law limiting protest
- Egypt’s Moussa defends draft charter
- Tahrir Square clashes as constitution changes agreed
- Muslim Brotherhood rejects Egypt’s draft constitution
- Egypt stops Morsi prison visits over ‘incitement’ messages
- Egyptian Satirist applauds freedom of expression during Morsi’s era
- The return of Egypt’s police state
- Egyptian police stage rare protest in defiance of new law
- Egyptian court frees 21 women who took part in Islamist protest
- In Egypt, university campuses emerge as the latest battleground
Speaking at the State Department to leaders of multinational U.S. firms, Kerry said the Islamist group had appropriated the revolt against Mubarak from young people who started it in large part through social media in response to what they saw of other mass protests around the Arab world.
[...] Kerry’s comments are likely to raise eyebrows in Egypt where competing claims of credit for Mubarak’s ouster are still a source of major division. Mubarak’s ouster led to Egypt’s first-ever democratically chosen president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Secular politicians could not get organized enough to provide a credible contest.
- Kerry, White House Split on Egypt Policy
- Egypt turns to Russia for support
- al-Sisi: Egyptian general is idolised for deposing former President Mohamed Morsi, but can his popularity last?
- Egypt Islamist tells army chief to avoid politics
- Mursi says he was kidnapped before being removed by army
- Lifting state of emergency in Egypt may not change police behavior
- Sissi vows to avenge deaths of 11 soldiers in Sinai
- It Took Less Than 24 Hours To Deface The New Monument In Tahrir Square
- Survey: Egypt is worst Arab state for women
Clashes in Cairo and its suburbs have killed at least 989 people since security forces launched a 14 August crackdown on supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, a forensic official told AFP Thursday.
On 14 August itself, 627 people were killed when security forces stormed Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square to disperse a sit-in by Morsi’s backers, said Hisham Abdul Hamid, spokesperson for Egypt’s forensic authorities.
The protesters had been calling for Morsi’s return after he was overthrown and imprisoned by the army on 3 July.
Dozens more were also killed on 14 August in the capital’s Nahda Square when police and troops dispersed a similar sit-in.
Abdul Hamid said the death toll was based on forensic details collected by several morgues in and around Cairo. It does not include security forces’ casualties.
His presence sparked chaos in the courtroom, with Morsi’s 14 co-defendants chanting against the army who ousted him, local journalists shouting for his execution and scuffles breaking out between rival lawyers. Amid the melee, Morsi and his colleagues rejected the authority of the court before the bedlam forced the presiding judge to adjourn proceedings until 8 January.
“What is happening now is a military coup,” boomed Morsi after arriving in the defendants’ cage – his first words in public since 2 July, when he gave a rambling televised speech the night before he was deposed by the army, following days of mass protests in which millions had called for the military to intervene.
“I am furious that the Egyptian judiciary should serve as cover for this criminal military coup,” he continued.
- Robert Fisk: As Mohamed Morsi goes to trial, General Sisi should remember: Egypt is a dangerous place to rule (Independent)
- Egyptian authorities prevent journalists from covering Morsi’s trial (MEMO)
- Egypt considers expanded powers for military in new constitution (Washington Post)
- Coup leader in Egypt wants immunity for army for 10 years (MEMO)
- Egypt’s Jon Stewart Taken Off The Air Minutes Before Showtime (Wired)
- Egypt to lift curfew on Nov. 14 (Xinhua)
In the highest-level American visit here since the Egyptian military removed the country’s first democratically elected president from power, Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Egyptian leaders on Sunday to stick to their “road map” for restoring democracy.
In substance as well as tone, Mr. Kerry’s visit to Egypt reflected the Obama administration’s determination to work with a military leadership that ruthlessly put down protesters from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that put forth the successful candidacy of President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted on July 3. A military government, now firmly entrenched here, has promised to establish a civilian-led government.
“The road map is being carried out to the best of our perception,” Mr. Kerry said, referring to the plan by the Egyptian authorities to conduct a national referendum on an amended Constitution and hold parliamentary and presidential elections by next spring.
“There are questions we have here and there about one thing or another,” he added in a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart. “I think it’s important for all of us, until proven otherwise, to accept that this is the track Egypt is on and to work to help it to be able to achieve that.”
President Obama’s October 9th decision to suspend millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Egypt came after two years of intense public pressure following Mubarak’s ouster. In all likelihood, however, it is probably a temporary scheme to avoid further public allegations that Obama supports the dictatorial coup regime in Egypt.
But it may have been even more cynical than that. One of the biggest problems with U.S. military aid to Egypt is the small arms and riot gear that security forces use to disperse crowds of peaceful protesters or crack down more generally on the population’s democratic ambitions. This type of aid may not be included in the suspension, but it’s hard to know because unless the arms transfer is a multi-million dollar war plane, they often are not even publicly disclosed.
Amnesty International lays out what Obama needs to do for the suspension of Egypt aid to actually mean something. Geoffrey Mock says “It’s time to ensure that Egyptian human rights violations don’t come labeled ‘Made in the USA.,’” and lists recommendations Amnesty has sent in a letter to the White House.
- U.S. lawmakers criticize Egypt aid cuts, consider changing law (Reuters)
- Egypt’s lobby by proxy wields outsize influence in DC (Al Jazeera)
- ‘Israel bluntly told the US not to cut aid to Egypt’ (Times of Israel)
- Egypt FM: Relations With US in ‘Turmoil’ Since Military Aid Cuts (Antiwar)
- Egypt sends delegation to Russia, rejects US pressure (Egypt Independent)
- Egypt ‘looking to Russia’ for arms after US aid freeze (Times of Israel)
- European Union calls on Egypt to lift state of emergency (MEMO)
- GOP senator holds up $60M in economic aid to Egypt (AP)
- Egyptian coup leaders hire US lobbyist with ties to Israel (MEMO)
Shariah, military power haunt Egypt’s secularists as they amend Islamist-era constitution (plus other news from Egypt)
[...] Democracy advocates warn the provisions could erase other significant democracy gains that are in the final draft still being shaped.
New articles definitively guarantee freedom of faith, expression, thought and the press, better due process and bans on torture, said Bahey Eldin Hassan, head of the Cairo Institute For Human Rights. On the basis of those articles alone, “this will be the best constitution of all Egypt’s charters,” Hassan said.
But, he said, the controversial articles would “constrain those gains.” For example, Islamists could restrict civil liberties and rights of women and Christians by arguing they contradict Islamic Shariah law— an aim one ultraconservative cleric proudly boasted about when the articles were introduced last year.
Proposed amendments to ban religion-based political parties and lift restrictions on building churches could also run into contradictions with Shariah rules.
And granting an untouchable status to the military could give it political power over the government.
- Egyptian Islamists call for daily protests before Morsi trial (Daily Times)
- Egypt considers law that could sharply limit protests, months after coup against Morsi (Washington Post)
- Egyptian strongman el-Sissi is being pressed to seek the presidency (McClatchy)
- Ousted General in Egypt Is Back, as Islamists’ Foe (NY TImes)
- Egypt athlete ‘stripped of gold medal’ for Morsi support (BBC)
- Egyptian journalist sentenced to a year in prison for ‘impersonating military personnel’ (Ahram)
- Egypt satirist Bassem Yousuf hits out at Al Sisi in TV return (Gulf News)
- Egyptians Abandoning Hope and Now, Reluctantly, Homeland (NY Times)
- Egypt police to be tried over detainee tear-gas deaths (BBC)
- Mubarak trial resumes in Egypt behind closed doors (AP)
- Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood facing wave of trials (AP)
In a major new report, the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations details a global crackdown on peaceful protests through excessive police force and the criminalization of dissent. The report, “Take Back The Streets: Repression and Criminalization of Protest Around the World,” warns of a growing tendency to perceive individuals exercising a fundamental democratic right — the right to protest — as a threat requiring a forceful government response. The case studies detailed in this report show how governments have reacted to peaceful protests in the United States, Israel, Canada, Argentina, Egypt, Hungary, Kenya, South Africa and Britain. The report’s name comes from a police report filed in June 2010 when hundreds of thousands of Canadians took to the streets of Toronto to nonviolently protest the G20 Summit. A senior Toronto Police Commander responded to the protests by issuing an order to “take back the streets.” Within a span of 36 hours, more than 1,000 people — peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights monitors and downtown residents — were arrested and placed in detention. We are joined by three guests: the report’s co-editor, Abby Deskman, a lawyer and program director with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association; Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union; and Hossam Bahgat, an Egyptian human rights activist and the founder and executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. (Democracy NOW!)