Category Archives: Egypt

How the Arab World Came Apart: Interview with Scott Anderson

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to Scott Anderson about his in-depth new report, Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart. Occupying the entire print edition of this week’s New York Times Magazine, it examines what has happened in the region in the past 13 years since the the U.S. invaded Iraq through the eyes of six characters in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Anderson is also author of the book, Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East(Democracy Now!)

A Gloomy Egypt Sees Its International Influence Wither

Liam Stack reports for The New York Times:

In a televised speech, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a general turned president, warned Egyptians that they lived in a broken country surrounded by enemies who would never leave them alone.

“Take a good look at your country,” he said during the speech in May. “This is the semblance of a state, and not a real state.”

Egypt needed law and order and strong institutions if it was to reverse its downward spiral and become “a state that respects itself and is respected by the world,” he said.

While rare in its bluntness, Mr. Sisi’s assessment is widely shared by Egyptians.

After five years of political and economic turmoil, a sense of gloom hangs over the country. Traditionally a leader of the Arab world, politically and culturally, and home to a quarter of its population, Egypt has become inward-looking and politically marginalized in a way not seen for generations.


Egypt regime using kidnapping, rape to crush dissent, Amnesty International reports

Christine Kearney reports for ABC Australia:

Anti-government protesters riot in EgyptAmnesty International has accused authorities in Egypt of kidnapping, torturing, and “forcibly disappearing people” in order to crush dissent.

In a new report the human rights group has documented a spike in enforced disappearances in the country since early 2015.

The report, Egypt: Officially, you do not exist: Disappeared and tortured in the name of counter-terrorism,criticised Egypt’s National Security Agency (NSA) using accounts of students, political activists and protesters snatched from their homes or off the streets — some as young as 14 years old.


Egypt’s Interior Ministry, in Error, Releases Memos on Restricting News Media

Declan Walsh and Nour Youssef report for The New York Times:

Egypt’s Interior Ministry, already under fire over accusations of police brutality and other abuses, heaped new woes onto itself on Tuesday when its press office published, apparently by accident, confidential guidelines that aim to counter a growing tide of news media criticism.

Memos sent to journalists from the ministry’s official email account contained suggestions about how to counter a “vicious” news media campaign that were triggered by the arrest of two reporters at the journalists’ union headquarters in downtown Cairo late Sunday. One document proposed a rule to stop all coverage related to Giulio Regeni, the Italian graduate student whose brutalized body was found on a Cairo roadside in February.

The accidental leaks provide a rare glimpse into the mind-set and internal working of the notoriously opaque Egyptian government at a time when President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is under intense scrutiny at home and abroad. The Regeni killing has plunged relations with Italy into crisis, while the police arrested dozens of people on April 25 during a rare public protest over the transfer of two Egyptian islands to Saudi Arabia.


Obama Proposes Removing Human Rights Conditions on Aid to Egypt

Zaid Jilani reports for The Intercept:

The budget proposal released by the Obama administration Tuesday seeks to roll back restrictions Congress has placed on foreign aid to Egypt’s military regime and the sale of crowd control weapons to “emerging democracies.”

Under current law, 15 percent of aid to Egypt is subject to being withheld based on human rights conditions — although even that can be waived if it is deemed to be in the national security interest of the United States, as it was last year.

Cole Bockenfeld, deputy director for policy at the Project on Middle East Democracy, says the administration probably doesn’t want to go to the trouble of justifying its waiver this year. “They had to basically do an assessment. … Here’s how they’re doing on political prisoners, here’s how they’re doing on freedom of assembly, and so on,” Bockenfeld explains. Last year’s report “infuriated the Egyptians … it was a pretty honest assessment of how things had deteriorated in Egypt.”


Brutal Repression in Egypt Exceeds Conditions Under Mubarak: Interview with Noha Radwan

Sharmini Peries talks to Noha Radwan, an associate professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at UC Davis. Radwan discusses the conditions facing political prisoners, where as many as seventy people are crammed into 15×15 spaces, while calling on the international community for assistance. (The Real News)

Egypt, five years later: A human-rights catastrophe of America’s making

Ganzeer writes for Creative Time Reports:

Egypt, five years later: A human-rights catastrophe of America's makingFive years ago this month, thousands of Egyptians filled Tahrir Square and ignited a mass uprising that lasted 18 days and drove strongman president Hosni Mubarak from office. It seemed to augur a bright future for freedom and democracy in Egyptbut five years, multiple referendums, two parliaments, two presidents, and scores of dead bodies later, Egypts present looks just like its past. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisis crackdown on dissidents spreads: at the end of last year the Interior Ministry raided cultural institutions, including a publishing house and art gallery. Sisi, as well as his minister of religious endowment, have both warned citizens against taking to the streets on the January 25 anniversary. Yet nobodyat least not in the White Houseseems to care.

Even before assuming office, Sisi was already responsible for an estimated death toll of at least 817 during the brutal clearing of a peaceful sit-in in Rabaa Square on August 14, 2013. And under his administration the Egyptian Armed Forcesoperations in Sinai have reportedly killed more than 2,000 people so far, including an unknown number of civilians (the Egyptian government acknowledges virtually no civilian deaths). The Egyptian people are so disillusioned that hardly anyone showed up to vote in the most recent parliamentary elections. Not even fatwas could get people to the pollsand why should they vote, when Sisis actions have made it clear that their votes do not matter? But none of that is stopping the United States from supporting him.


The Arab Spring began in hope, but ended in desolation

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

arab-spring-graphic-2.jpgArab Spring was always a misleading phrase, suggesting that what we were seeing was a peaceful transition from authoritarianism to democracy similar to that from communism in Eastern Europe. The misnomer implied an over-simplified view of the political ingredients that produced the protests and uprisings of 2011 and over-optimistic expectations about their outcome.

Five years later it is clear that the result of the uprisings has been calamitous, leading to wars or increased repression in all but one of the six countries where the Arab Spring principally took place. Syria, Libya and Yemen are being torn apart by civil wars that show no sign of ending. In Egypt and Bahrain autocracy is far greater and civil liberties far less than they were prior to 2011. Only in Tunisia, which started off the surge towards radical change, do people have greater rights than they did before.

What went so disastrously wrong?


ISIS Recruitment Thrives in Brutal Prisons Run By US-Backed Egypt

Murtaza Hussain reports for The Intercept:

For nearly two years, Mohamed Soltan, a 26-year-old citizen of both Egypt and America, endured torture, deprivation, and cruelty while locked in the prisons of Egyptian military dictator Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. In 2013, he was among thousands arrested in a country-wide crackdown on civil society activists, journalists, and members of the deposed government following Sisi’s coup and massacre of protestors in Cairo’s Raba’a Adawiya Square.

Soltan was released this year after a 400-day hunger strike in which he lost over 130 pounds and nearly died, saved only by the intervention of the American government on his behalf. Despite bending to pressure in his case, the Egyptian regime continues to hold as many as 41,000 political prisoners, recent Human Rights Watch estimates suggest. And Soltan worries that extremism is incubating in those facilities, where he witnessed and experienced torture. Today, he says that, through its oppressive practices, the Sisi government is effectively acting as a “recruiting agent” for extremist groups like the Islamic State.

“The regime is fostering an environment in their prisons that makes them a fertile ground for that kind of ideology to flourish,” Soltan says. “The brutality and the overwhelming loss of hope is creating a situation which fits [the Islamic State’s] narrative, and they’re using it to try and recruit people and spread their message.”


The Emirati Plan for Ruling Egypt

David Hearst reports for Middle East Eye:

A top-secret strategy document prepared for Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan reveals that the United Arab Emirates is losing faith in the ability of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to serve the Gulf state’s interests.

The document, prepared by one of Bin Zayed’s team and dated 12 October, contains two key quotes which describe the frustration bin Zayed feels about Sisi, whose military coup the Crown Prince bankrolled, pouring in billions of dollars along with Saudi Arabia. It says: “This guy needs to know that I am not an ATM machine.” Further on, it also reveals the political price the Emiratis will exact if they continue to fund Egypt.

Future strategy should be based on not just attempting to influence the government in Egypt but to control it. It is summarised thus: “Now I will give but under my conditions. If I give, I rule.”

Egypt, which has recently tried to stem a run on the Egyptian pound, is heavily dependent on cash from the Emirates, which have become the largest foreign direct investor. At an economic conference in Sharm el-Sheikh in March, the prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, revealed the UAE had already given Egypt $13.9bn and he pledged $3.9bn more. The real amount of aid Sisi got from the Emiratis is thought by analysts to be closer to $25bn, around half of the total Gulf aid to Egypt.


America’s ‘Establishment’ Has Embraced ‘Deep States’

Philip Giraldi, a former military intelligence and CIA case officer, writes for the New York Times:

Citizens in many countries wonder how certain government policies can persist in spite of widespread popular opposition or clear perceptions that they are harmful. This persistence is frequently attributed to a “deep state.”

The phrase is often applied to Turkey, where the nation’s security services and governing elite pursue the same chauvinistic and inward-looking agenda no matter who is prime minister.

But every country has a deep state of some kind. “The Establishment,” as it’s been called in the United States, where it evolved from the Washington-New York axis of national security officials and financial services executives. They are said to know what is “best” for the country and to act accordingly, no matter who sits in the White House.


ISIS says Russia targeted over Syria campaign, shows alleged Sinai jet ‘bomb’

RT reports:

Embedded image permalinkAn image of alleged parts of a “bomb” used to take down a Russian passenger plane over Egypt’s Sinai, killing all 224 people onboard, was posted by Islamic State’s magazine.

A soft drink can and what appeared to be a detonator and switch allegedly made up the parts of an improvised homemade bomb, a photo published online on Wednesday by Dabiq magazine suggests.

Another photograph showed passports said to belong to Russian passengers killed in the bombing, with the documents allegedly obtained by Islamic fighters.

The authenticity of the images has not been verified.

On Tuesday, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) announced that a terrorist attack caused the A321 plane en route to St. Petersburg to crash in Sinai. Traces of explosives have been found in the wreckage, which included passengers’ belongings and parts of the plane.


Bomb would derail President Sisi’s claim that he crushed terrorism in Egypt

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

[…] The loss of the plane is damaging to both Egypt and Russia. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had wanted to show the outside world that he had crushed “terrorism” in his country since he came to power in 2013. His critics say that by persecuting the Muslim Brotherhood he is providing Isis supporters with a new constituency. The worst violence has been in Sinai, where there has been a slow burning insurgency for decades, and from which journalists have been excluded in order to sustain the fiction that order has been restored.

Few of the tourists visiting Sharm el-Sheikh will have taken on board that there is a fierce guerrilla war going on in other parts of Sinai, but these cannot be kept entirely separate from the sanitised tourist resorts of the Red Sea. On 1 July this year the Isis affiliate known as “Sinai Province” sent 300 to 400 armed fighters in a well-organised attempt to take the town of Sheikh Zuwayed in North Sinai, using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The government announced that 241 jihadi fighters and 21 soldiers were killed in the clashes, but the number of civilian dead is unknown. Egyptian journalists who tried to investigate what was going on were arrested.


Black Boxes Confirm Bombing of Russian Airliner

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

The recovered black box voice recorder on the Russian Metrojet was functioning, finally affirming a week of speculation about the fate of the plane, which crashed Saturday in the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. As was expected, the black boxes determined it was a bombing.

Sources say the data recorder showed the flight was traveling perfectly normal and without incident for 24 minutes, then suffered a “violent and sudden explosive decompression,” breaking apart mid-air and crashing into a mountainous part of the peninsula.

The audio recorders also picked up the sound of the explosion, apparently a bomb, as investigators say the explosion was not consistent with engine failure or any other technical problem. Russian experts have taken samples from the plane and are still looking for traces of explosives.

The ISIS affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula claimed credit for downing the plane on the day of the crash, and intelligence has since suggested that an airport employee at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport planted the bomb on the plane before takeoff.


The Pillage of Egypt by Sisi and Britain Inc.

Omar Kassem writes for CounterPunch:

In echoes of Britain’s support of Saddam Hussein in the 1980s along with the US, and Margaret Thatcher’s thanks to August Pinochet for “bringing democracy to Chile”, Britain will host Egyptian junta leader Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi on a state visit in November.

This follows a trip by British Defence Secretary and MP for Sevenoaks, Michael Fallon, to Egypt to attend the August 6 function for the opening of a new branch of the Suez Canal. Fallon, writing an op-ed in the local Egyptian state paper, hailed the ‘rejection of authoritarianism’ by the régime of Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, while some 46,000 of the best minds and the most active people in Egypt languish in the régime’s prisons on trumped up charges, in filthy conditions and without medical care. 176 of those are parliamentarians.

As Fallon towered over the pathetic figure of François Hollande at the ceremony, he seethed visibly as French Rafale fighter-jets screamed overhead. France had been looking for buyer for the Rafales for twenty years. Now the French defence industry is ahead of the British one. The $5.2bn Rafale contract signed in February effectively bails out Dassault, the French arms manufacturer. France will also relieve itself of two Mistral amphibious assault ships destined for Russia, but withheld from the Western antagonist due to European sanctions, bringing $1.1bn into state coffers from a further Egyptian deal.


Why Does the West Need Sisi?

Al Jazeera’s Jane Dutton is joined by several guests to discuss the visit of Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to the UK this week. Khalil Al-Anani is an Associate Professor at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies and Resident Senior Fellow at Middle East Institute, David Hearst is the editor of the Middle East Eye, and Marwa Maziad, a specialist on Middle East Politics and civil-military relations in the Middle East. (Inside Story)

Egypt’s upheaval has transformed much of the Sinai into a no-go zone

Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula was long known for its stunning desert treks and pristine diving. But in recent years, the territory has gained a reputation for its violence and militancy.

Some of the same arid landscapes that drew tourists for desert safaris are now lawless badlands stalked by dangerous militant groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Egypt’s government has deployed troops, tanks and fighter jets to the peninsula’s volatile north to combat an insurgency, but so far it has failed to quell the violence.

On Saturday, when a Russian airliner plummeted to the ground in a remote area of Sinai, a local Islamic State affiliate known as the “Sinai Province” asserted responsibility for the crash. The disaster killed all 224 people on board, but aviation and security officials say there is no evidence the plane was brought down by terrorism.

The Sinai-based militants do not possess the type of advanced weapons necessary to hit high-flying aircraft, defense analysts say. But the militants’ acquisition of increasingly dangerous weapons, and a growth in sophisticated insurgent attacks, has raised serious concerns about their ability to strike high-profile targets.


Sinai plane crash: Bomb theory prevails while probe still ongoing

Journalism is Not a Crime: Freed Al Jazeera Reporter Peter Greste Seeks Pardon from Egypt

“Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi granted pardons to 100 people on Wednesday, including two jailed journalists from Al Jazeera, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. The two were initially arrested along with Australian journalist Peter Greste as part of a crackdown on Al Jazeera following the ouster of democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and served more than a year in prison. In a statement, Amnesty International said: “While these pardons come as a great relief, it is ludicrous that some of these people were even behind bars in the first place.” Fahmy, Mohamed and Greste were initially sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison for terrorism charges including “spreading false news” in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed a “terrorist group” by the Egyptian government. While Fahmy and Mohamed have been pardoned, no pardon has been issued yet for Peter Greste, who has traveled to New York to lobby for a presidential pardon while el-Sisi is attending the United Nations General Assembly.” (Democracy Now!)

Will the U.S. Stop “Cozying Up” to Egyptian Regime After Jailing of Journalists? Interview with Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Kenneth Roth

Democracy Now! talks to Sharif Abdel Kouddous from Cairo, and  Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, after Egypt sentences Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste to three years in jail for “spreading false news” that purportedly harmed Egypt following the 2013 military coup. According to Roth: “The U.S. should stop cozying up to General — now President — Sisi. He is presiding over the worst crackdown in modern Egypt history.” (Democracy Now!)

Egypt: Sisi’s Regime Is a Gift to the Islamic State

Shadi Hamid writes for Foreign Policy:

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power on a classic strongman platform. He was no liberal or democrat — and didn’t claim to be — but promised stability and security at a time when most Egyptians had grown exhausted from the uncertainties of the Arab Spring.

Increasingly, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration seems to accept this premise. In the span of the past week, the United States has delivered eight F-16s to Egypt, relaunched the U.S.-Egypt “strategic dialogue,” and said it would resume “Bright Star,” the joint military exercise suspended after the military coup of July 3, 2013.

Sisi’s raison d’être of security and stability, however, has been undermined with each passing month. By any measurable standard, Egypt is more vulnerable to violence and insurgency today than it had been before. On July 1, as many as 64 soldiers were killed in coordinated attacks by Egypt’s Islamic State affiliate, which calls itself the Province of Sinai. It was the worst death toll in decades, and came just days after the country’s chief prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, was assassinated.

f this is what a “stability-first” approach looks like, Egypt’s future is dark indeed. Of course, it shouldn’t be surprising that the country is growing less secure: Since the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013, Egypt has seen shocking levels of repression.


U.S. Government Celebrates Its Arming of the Egyptian Regime With a YouTube Video

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

The Egyptian regime run by the despotic General Abdelfattah al-Sisi is one of the world’s most brutal and repressive. Last year, Human Rights Watch documented that that Egyptian “security forces have carried out mass arrests and torture that harken back to the darkest days of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule.” Just two months ago, the group warned that the abuses have “escalated,” and that Sisi, “governing by decree in the absence of an elected parliament, ha[s] provided near total impunity for security force abuses and issued a raft of laws that severely curtailed civil and political rights, effectively erasing the human rights gains of the 2011 uprising that ousted the longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.”

Despite that repression — or, more accurately, because of it — the Obama administration has lavished the regime with aid, money and weapons, just as the U.S. government did for decades in order to prop up Hosni Mubarak. When Sisi took power in a coup, not only did the U.S. government support him but it praised him for restoring “democracy.” Since then, the U.S. has repeatedly sent arms and money to the regime as its abuses became more severe. As the New York Times delicately put it yesterday, “American officials . . . signaled that they would not let their concerns with human rights stand in the way of increased security cooperation with Egypt.”

None of that is new: A staple of U.S. foreign policy has long been to support heinous regimes as long as they carry out U.S. dictates, all in order to keep domestic populations in check and prevent their views and beliefs (which are often averse to the U.S.) from having any effect on the actions of their own government.


Egypt’s imprisonment of journalists is at an all-time high

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports:

Journalists protest the imprisonment of Egyptian photographer Mahmoud Abou Zeid, or Shawkan. (AP/Amr Nabil)“We are not going to replace Islamist fascism with a civil one,” Ahmed al-Mosallamany, spokesman for the transitional president, told CPJ in August 2013, a month after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Mosallamany also promised constitutional changes that would improve press freedom in the country.

But today, almost two years later, journalists face unprecedented threats in President Abdelfattah el-Sisi’s Egypt.

A prison census CPJ conducted on June 1, 2015, found that Egyptian authorities were holding at least 18 journalists behind bars in relation for their reporting, the highest in the country since CPJ began recording data on imprisoned journalists in 1990. The threat of imprisonment in Egypt is part of an atmosphere in which authorities pressure media outlets to censor critical voices and issue gag orders on sensitive topics. Entire outlets, such as Al-Jazeera and the Turkish Anadolu news agency, have been banned from operating or forced to close their offices, according to CPJ research.

In a February 2015 mission to Egypt, CPJ spoke to high-level officials, including the prosecutor-general and the minister of transitional justice, who denied that Egypt was holding any journalists in jail in relation to their work. But CPJ research shows that the government of el-Sisi, who was elected president in May 2014, has used the pretext of national security to crack down on human rights, including press freedom.’


Egypt’s Power Struggle Intensifies with Killing of Prosecutor Behind Mass Jailings of Islamists: Interview with Sharif Abdel Kouddous

‘Egypt’s public prosecutor has been killed in a bomb attack in Cairo. Hisham Barakat died in hospital Monday after a remote bomb detonated next to his car outside his home as he drove to work. Eight others were also hurt in the blast. Barakat became a target of militants after he sent thousands of Islamists to trial following the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. We speak with Cairo-based Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous.’ (Democracy Now!)

Western collusion with Egypt’s reign of terror

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Middle East Eye:

[…] So far, Egypt has signed a grant total of $158 billion worth of agreements and memoranda of understanding with international companies, many of which have focused on energy.

Apart from Germany, Britain and Israel, as of March 2015, Egypt has also signed a $1.8 billion deal with China to develop Egypt’s electricity transmission grid; a $2.4 billion deal with companies from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to develop solar and wind power stations; a $7 billion deal with Saudi Arabia to develop a coal power station; a $5 billion deal with Italian oil major Eni to develop Egypt’s oil resources over four years.

Meanwhile, Sisi has appropriated the “war on terror” rhetoric of his Western benefactors to legitimise his brutal crackdown on political dissent and civil society activism.

Presenting himself as a bulwark of regional stability in the face of rising Islamist extremism, the West has rushed to shore up his tyranny primarily with energy contracts, but also, it seems, through direct collusion in Sisi’s domestic human rights abuses to crush political opposition.

The West has learned no lessons from the fall of Mubarak – except to keep doing more of the same.’


Selling Out: Germany Sends Wrong Message By Welcoming Egypt’s Sisi

Raniah Salloum wrote recently for Der Spiegel:

On Wednesday [June 3rd], the German government is welcoming Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Berlin for an official state visit, despite the fact that he imprisons and tortures critics and even has them killed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) previously stated she would only invite the Egyptian leader after parliamentary elections, which probably would be neither free nor fair. But now he has been invited to Berlin, even without any date in sight for elections. What caused this change of heart?

In March, Egypt’s Constitutional Court annulled the country’s election law. Sisi invited international investors to Sharm el-Sheikh. German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) then traveled to the country with a delegation of business leaders. At the time, German engineering multinational Siemens signed memorandums of understanding worth up to €10 billion ($11.14 billion) with the Egyptian government. Gabriel then personally delivered to Sisi the chancellor’s coveted invitation to visit Berlin.

The German government is forfeiting one of its most powerful diplomatic instruments in exchange for a lucrative business deal. By welcoming Sisi in Berlin, the government is now providing him with the international recognition he needs. It is legitimizing a leader who is ruling Egypt more brutally than Hosni Mubarak did.’


Egypt: Islamists warn of backlash over Mohamed Morsi death sentence

Patrick Kingsley reports for The Guardian:

Egyptian Islamists have warned that the world should brace itself for a backlash after the country’s first freely elected president, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, was given a provisional death sentence nearly two years after he was overthrown by the army following mass protests against his rule.

Morsi was among over 100 men sentenced to death on Saturday for allegedly escaping prison during the 2011 uprising that toppled Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. Morsi and his colleagues were convicted of conspiring with Hamas, the Brotherhood’s Palestinian offshoot, whom judges decided had helped the prisoners leave jail in January 2011.

The sentence is provisional until the government’s most senior Islamic cleric gives his opinion. A final decision is due on 2 June. Even if the execution is upheld, analysts doubt that the Egyptian regime will follow through with such a provocative act. In a separate espionage case on Saturday, Morsi was sentenced to life in prison and, in a third case last month, to 20 years for incitement to violence.’


SisiLeaks: Secret Tapes of the 2013 Egypt Coup Plot Pose a Problem for Obama

Mark Hertsgaard reports for The Daily Beast:

Former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi sits behind bars with other Muslim Brotherhood members at a court in the outskirts of Cairo, December 29, 2014. Mursi and 35 other top Islamists are charged with conspiring with foreign groups to commit terrorist acts in Egypt, implicating the Palestinian group Hamas, the Shi'ite Islamist government of Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW) - RTR4JJO4[…] The authenticity of the secret tapes has been verified forensically at the request of Morsi’s lawyers by J. P. French Associates, a British company that specializes in voice analysis, the Guardian newspaper has reported. The Egyptian government denies the finding, denouncing the tapes as “fabrications.”

If genuine, the tapes raise embarrassing questions for U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in particular.  Besides rigging the legal case against Morsi, the tapes describe the Egyptian military’s role in fomenting the street protests that el-Sisi used to justify Morsi’s removal—a revelation that undercuts the military’s assertion that it took power as part of a popular “revolution,” not a coup.

U.S. law prohibits supplying advanced military equipment to a government that seized power in a coup.

Obama froze U.S. military aid to Egypt immediately after Morsi’s overthrow, but recently reversed course.’


Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

[…] It amazes me that all these warriors of the air don’t regularly crash into each other as they go on bombing and bombing. And since Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines is the only international carrier still flying over Syria – but not, thank heavens, over Isis’s Syrian capital of Raqqa – I’m even more amazed that my flights from Beirut to the Gulf have gone untouched by the blitz boys of so many Arab and Western states as they career around the skies of Mesopotamia and the Levant.

The sectarian and theological nature of this war seems perfectly clear to all who live in the Middle East – albeit not to our American chums. The Sunni Saudis are bombing the Shia Yemenis and the Shia Iranians are bombing the Sunni Iraqis. The Sunni Egyptians are bombing Sunni Libyans, it’s true, and the Jordanian Sunnis are bombing Iraqi Sunnis. But the Shia-supported Syrian government forces are bombing their Sunni Syrian enemies and the Lebanese Hezbollah – Shia to a man – are fighting the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Sunni enemies, along with Iranian Revolutionary Guards and an ever-larger number of Afghan Shia men in Syrian uniforms.’


Ousted Egypt President Mohamed Morsi Gets 20 Years In Prison