The Obama administration plans to resume some military assistance to Egypt and deliver 10 Apache helicopters after the military-backed government in Cairo upheld its peace treaty with Israel.
The decision to lift the hold on the US aid was made because the Egyptian government is sustaining its strategic relationship with the United States and fulfilling its obligations to Israel, Secretary of State John Kerry told Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy in a telephone call, according to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also informed his Egyptian counterpart, Colonel General Sedki Sobhi, of the decision in a telephone call, saying the Apache helicopters “will help the Egyptian government counter extremists who threaten US, Egyptian and Israeli security,” according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.
The decision comes despite concerns about failure of Egypt’s government to embrace democratic reforms following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi back in July. Since then, Egypt has been the scene of the government’s deadly crackdown on Morsi’s supporters, who have been holding street protests.
According to US law, when a military coup occurs in a country, economic and military aid should be cut off. But the administration’s decision means the controversial aid will be flowing to the Egyptian military again.
Before last year’s coup in Egypt, the US provided Cairo with $1.5 billion a year in aid, $1.3 billion of which was military assistance.
We recently visited Egypt leading a delegation of lawyers to observe the situation of human rights in that country. We were troubled by what we saw and heard. We are also troubled by the United States’ support for a government installed by a military coup.
The United States and more than 160 States have agreed to respect and ensure the right to participate in one’s government, for example, by agreeing to article 25 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. Nevertheless, as this right came under serious attack in Egypt, the United States continues to support the Egyptian military as it imposes its will on the Egyptian people. This support should stop until and unless the freely and fairly elected government is restored.
The military coup that took place in Egypt on 3 July 2013 is a serious violation of the right to participate in one’s democracy. It is a violation of the rights of the majority voters in Egypt’s presidential and parliamentary elections in 2011 and 2012.
The serious deterioration of human rights in Egypt in the aftermath of the military coup is largely due to the military coup leaders’ unwillingness to allow any significant expressions of dissent and the military coup leaders’ failure to respect the will of the Egyptian people.
During our visit to Cairo we heard reliably allegations of massive, widespread and serious violations of the right to fair trial, to an independent judiciary, to security of person, to the prohibition of torture, and about a policy of violent assaults on women. The level of these abuses is unprecedented in Egypt, a country with which we are familiar for almost half a century.
Grave concerns were expressed by lawyers about the integrity of the courts. The trial of Egypt’s first elected President Mohamed Morsi by the military is a case in point. The procedures that exist in the Egyptian Constitution for trying their President have been ignored. This has resulted in President Morsi being tried by an illegal court that appears to have been created merely to justify removing him from office.
The military coup leaders have been unrelenting in their attack on the peaceful supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In December 2013 the military coup leaders declared the Muslim Brotherhood an illegal entity. They did this despite the fact that the Freedom and Justice Party with which it is associated, won more support than any other party in Egypt’s free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections. This action violates the right to free speech, assembly and association.
Recently, an Egyptian court, functioning under the military coup, sentenced more than 400 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death for the killing of a single policeman. At the same time, thousands of Egyptians remain arbitrarily detained and without fair trial.
The dismal state of human rights in Egypt, which we witnessed first hand, should be a concern for us all. The United States should stand with the Egyptian people and not with the leaders of a military coup.
Ramsey Clark was the 66th Attorney-General of the United States.
Abdeen Jabara, Frm. President of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee and Board Member of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Filippo Grandi yesterday called on Israel and Egypt to lift the siege that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for more than half a decade.
Grandi said the siege on the Gaza Strip is considered the longest in history; longer than that of Sarajevo, Berlin and Leningrad.
The UNRWA official acknowledged Israeli and Egyptian security concerns but insisted that the plight of about 1.8 million residents in the Strip also needs to be considered.
He said that the Rafah Crossing has been closed for the seventh consecutive week and it is necessary to remind Egypt of its obligations towards patients and students who are in desperate need to travel.
“I think the world should not forget about the security of the people of Gaza,” he said. “Their security is worth the same as everybody else’s security so we appeal to the humanitarian sense of all.”
Grandi called the Israeli blockade on Gaza “illegal and [it] must be lifted”. He said that there are infrastructure projects run by the UNRWA worth $150 million. These projects are suspended until Israel lifts the siege, further harming the Palestinians.
“I also want to make a strong appeal for export to resume because the lack of export is the main reason for the poverty of Gaza,” Grandi said.
The official, who is leaving his office next week, said that the Gaza Strip has been suffering from a dangerous water problem, citing data mentioned in the UN 2020 report.
A court in Egypt has sentenced 529 supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi to death for various charges including murder, judicial sources and a defence lawyer say.
“The court has decided to sentence to death 529 defendants and 16 were acquitted,” lawyer Ahmed al-Sharif said on Monday.
He added that the ruling can be appealed.
Judicial sources say 153 of the sentenced people are in custody, but the rest are on the run.
According to judicial sources, the defendants have been charged with assaulting security forces and vandalizing public property during the violence that erupted after police stormed two protest camps set up by Morsi’s supporters in Cairo last August.
The military-backed government has launched a deadly crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood supporters after the army ousted Morsi in July last year, with hundreds of people killed and thousands arrested.
According to a report released by the Associated Press earlier this month, Egypt’s military-backed government has jailed nearly 16,000 people since Morsi’s removal. About 3,000 Muslim Brotherhood members are among those who have been put behind bars.
Until now, Israel has been getting away with anything it likes. A series of revolutions and counter-revolutions in the Arabic world has driven it into chaos, and seems to have pushed the Palestinian issue off the international agenda for good.
And yet Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, has now called a tribunal for war crimes and produced a genocide ruling – against whom?
Not against Assad, as one might have expected, but against Israel, the state that considers itself to be beyond the jurisdiction of any court or tribunal.
In Hamlet, the message that the king killed his brother to marry his widow and seize the throne is delivered by the murdered king’s spirit – which literally means by someone who cannot testify in court. As a result, Prince Hamlet spends a long time tormenting himself about whether he should believe the spirit and avenge his father. After that, he undertakes a smart move – asking a troupe of actors to stage a play reenacting his father’s murder, while he watches the murderer’s reaction. At the end of the play, everyone dies, but Hamlet has gotten his revenge.
That’s how people’s justice usually works – it takes a long time, it’s messy and ultimately useless from a rational viewpoint. It would have been much more rational for Prince Hamlet to pay due honor to the new king and his new wife, Hamlet’s mother, pray for his deceased father, marry Ophelia and have lots of children, then inherit the throne in due time and just keep on living…
The spectators watch how the prince’s world and values are shattered to the ground. The father’s spirit has its word. The actors have played out their play, and the murderer has been betrayed by his reaction.
For the first time, an international war crimes tribunal has charged the State of Israel of genocide, an unprecedented event, as so far no international court or tribunal has ever delivered a verdict against Israel to date.
The International Tribunal convened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Israel refused to send any representatives. The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal has no official ties to the UN and acknowledges that it has not authority to deliver punishment. Opinions differ on the subject of its jurisdiction, and the only sanction it has in its power is to enter the name and title of the party found guilty in the Tribunal’s registry and announce it publicly to the world. In 2011, the tribunal found George Bush and Tony Blair guilty of crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and genocide as a result of their roles in the Iraq War.
It seems that one could just as well ignore this tribunal; much like Israel ignores the condemning UN resolutions, protests, severed diplomatic relationships and all other kinds of protests against the military actions and acts of violence applied against the Palestinians on a daily basis. However, a detailed trial like this indicates that the mechanism has been set in motion, which will have consequences for the entire world, not just for Israel or the Middle East.
The International Tribunal is part of the Kuala Lumpur Commission on War Crimes; however, these two institutions are not part of Malaysia’s judicial system, even though they employ judges and prosecutors of Malaysian background. Israel has no agreements signed with this or any other international court. Yet the Tribunal acts on the basis of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, which was signed and ratified by Israel. And this very signature, Israel’s membership in the UN and the fact that Israel owes its very existence to the UN and to the condemnation of genocide against Jews in the course of World War II – all this at the very least gives us the right to challenge and discuss whether Israel’s own actions could fall into the category of genocide.
Interestingly, the USA has been refusing to sign this document for 37 years, having reasonable fears that many lawyers would want to charge the USA itself with genocide of the Indians and African slaves, as well as the Japanese, the Koreans, the Vietnamese and many others. Israel, in its turn, did not foresee that the very convention it pushed the world to adopt after the war will one day be used against it. The very formation of the State of Israel was made possible by the agreement of the victorious powers to acknowledge that Jews were victims of genocide carried out by Nazi Germany and that only having a nation state of its own can guarantee them proper protection.
“The victims of genocide became themselves the source of it.” This is how Hedi Epstein sees the essence of the ruling against Israel. A German Jew who survived WWII, she lost her parents to a concentration camp. Epstein was a prosecution witness in the Nuremberg Trials. And in 1982, she learned that the Israeli Army occupied Lebanon and provoked mass executions in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps. From that moment on, Epstein and hundreds of other Jews embarked on an anti-military and anti-Zionist campaign. However, Israel has refused to listen to their voices. They were labeled “self-hating” Jews and banned from the country which, incidentally, announced itself to be the homeland of all Jews in the world. Israel remained deaf to their warning that the Jews who survived genocide do not wish Israel to be committing genocidal crimes against the Palestinian people in their name.
Israel was convinced that the US would never cease to provide it with military and political assistance, so it had nothing to worry about. The Jewish “weirdos” are free to organize as many useless marches and “freedom flotillas” as they wish; no one will dare to find Israel guilty.
And now Israel has received its first wake-up call.
The hearings on the genocide lawsuit started in August 2013. But the news soon faded into the background as the media extensively covered the mass shooting of hundreds of Egyptians who disagreed with President Morsi’s arrest and the growing tensions around Syria due to a possible American missile strike.
On November 20-25, the final stage of the proceedings took place, initiated by a group of Palestinians, who reported a number of incidents.
The first one involved Israeli soldiers who killed 29 members of the extended Samouni family in the Zeitoun neighborhood of the Gaza Strip during the 22-day Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and 2009.
This is the most notorious crime against Palestinians over the last few years. Judge Goldstone incorporated it into his report, which he submitted to the UN after the operation was over.
The Samounis were a large family of peaceful farmers. None of them had ever participated in armed resistance. They were some of the few Palestinians who got on well with the Israeli settlers and they were frustrated by the removal of the settlements from the Gaza Strip.
In January 2009, an Israeli helicopter landed on their field. A few gunmen demanded that the Samounis turn in the Hamas militants to them. The next thing they did was bring the whole family under one roof and shoot them down dead, including the infants. Those who survived were found under the bodies of their relatives.
One of the survivors was the children’s mother. She repeatedly tried to get a criminal case started in various courts of law, but failed to get any compensation or apologies from Israel.
The second story revolved around the mass shooting of women and children in the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon in 1982.
Other incidents included:
- lethal firing of teargas canisters and rubber bullets by Israeli Defense Forces that resulted in the deaths of unarmed civilians during the Intifada campaigns and subsequent protests;
- intensive, indiscriminate aerial bombing and artillery shelling of civilian quarters in the Gaza Strip in 2008;
- a university student who was shot without warning at a peaceful protest by an Israeli sniper, firing a fragmentary bullet that caused extensive and permanent damage to his internal organs;
- a Christian resident of the West Bank who was repeatedly imprisoned and tortured on grounds of subversion;
- a female resident of Nablus who suffered mental anxiety due to her imprisonment and subsequent social ostracism;
- a Palestinian physician who conducted studies on the psychological trauma inflicted, particularly on children, as result of constant intimidation, massive violence and state terror during and following the second Intifada; and
- Expert witness Paola Manduca, an Italian chemist and toxicologist, who found extreme levels of toxic contamination of the soil and water across the Gaza Strip, caused by Israeli weapons made of heavy metals and cancer-causing compounds.
The Tribunal found the State of Israel guilty of genocide of the Palestinian people in each of these cases, blaming former general Amos Yaron for the Sabra and Shatila massacre.
The Tribunal’s verdict reads as follows:
“The Tribunal is satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that the first defendant, [General] Amos Yaron, is guilty of crimes against humanity and genocide, and the second defendant, the State of Israel, is guilty of genocide.”
Even though the Israeli authorities ignored the summons, several highly experienced lawyers were appointed by the Tribunal to represent Israel.
So far we can only see separate elements without fully comprehending the full picture. There are several things worth noting here.
Israel’s case wasn’t brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague; in fact, it wasn’t a European court at all. In Europe, the guilt for failing to save the Jews from genocide 70 years ago is still alive and associated with Israel. Hearing this case in the Malaysian tribunal sends a message to the whole world that Israel should be treated like any other state, like Rwanda, Serbia, Libya or Cambodia.
The fact that the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal condemned Israel is hardly surprising – Malaysia actively supports the Palestinians. In early 2013 the Malaysian prime minister visited the Gaza Strip – there aren’t many political leaders who can afford to make such a provocative step.
Malaysian Islam is similar to that of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that suffered such a crushing political defeat in Egypt. Malaysia’s ex-leader, Mahathir Mohamad, is a very influential figure in the Muslim world, especially among Muslim Brotherhood supporters, specifically in the part of the Muslim establishment that’s close to Britain.
Malaysia is even more determined to get revenge for the damage the Muslim Brotherhood sustained than Turkey, so this influential political faction dealt their opponents a glancing, but painful blow. It’s the first time an international tribunal convicted not individual generals, but the State of Israel of genocide. Israel’s main weapon has been turned against it.
It’s also important to note that a year ago Henry Kissinger, a key figure in US politics and architect of the Middle East peace deal, unexpectedly said that he perused a report by 16 American intelligence agencies which arrived at the conclusion that in 10 years’ time there will be no more Israel. The report itself, as well as Kissinger’s comment, can only be viewed as proof that a certain section of the American political elite intends to finish Project Israel. Otherwise, they would’ve kept the report under wraps and started working on a plan to save Israel. And most importantly, if saving Israel was on their agenda, no tribunal would be hearing this case.
Moreover, most of the Israel’s supporters wanted to believe that almost three years of revolutions in the Arab world and two years of fighting in Syria have pushed the Palestinian issue to the sidelines. Israel rejoiced that the focus shifted from the Palestinian issue, which united everyone, to the Syrian conflict, which became a bone of contention for the entire world.
Contrary to Israel’s expectations of two months ago, the Tribunal is not trying Assad for crimes against the Syrian people. Instead, it is trying Israel for genocide of the Palestinians. All of a sudden, Israel has lost its momentum. The Palestinians are back in the political spotlight, and the trap designed to lure Assad has turned into a trap for Israel.
Last but not least, many pundits rushed to argue that both the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood and their fall is all the doing of the US. The veteran commentators would say that those who are to blame for the toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt will not go unpunished by the US and UK. The Israeli agents had put too much effort into cajoling major governments to support the Sisi-led coup to oust Mubarak and ignore the 3,000 deaths caused by the junta and the lies of the world media about the Muslim Brotherhood allegedly burning down the Coptic churches. Encouraged by the UK and Obama, full of arrogance and reluctance to reach any kind of compromise, Israel paved its own way to the genocide verdict.
Right now, Israel’s supporters are acting as though the Kuala Lumpur verdict can be neglected. But it won’t be long before they realize how dramatic the situation actually is: were the court to be situated in Europe, Israel would have lobbied its way out of the trial. But it did not reach as far as Kuala Lumpur. The precedent has been set.
Nadezhda Kevorkova is a war correspondent who has covered the events of the Arab Spring, military and religious conflicts around the world, and the anti-globalization movement.
A delegation from the Egyptian army and Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited Israel last week against the backdrop of consolidating relations between the two countries following the July 3 military coup.
The Egyptian delegation was hosted by the Israeli army’s Planning Department and the MFA, according to Haaretz.
A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that the Egyptian delegation spent a week in Israel, met Israeli officials, and toured a number of areas.
In the same context, Israeli journalist Barak Ravid said in his latest Haaretz article that Israel urged senior officials in the US Administration and Congress not to cancel the sale of 10 advanced Apache combat helicopters to Egypt, quoting an Israeli official as saying that supplying Egypt with the helicopters “is crucial to Egypt’s fight Against jihadist organizations in the Sinai, and will improve regional security.”
Ravid stressed that security cooperation between Egypt and Israel has been enhanced since June, and that Israel has made huge efforts to support the interim Egyptian government.
Atlanta, February 26, 2014 – Since the days of President Woodrow Wilson – that is, for roughly 100 years – the USA has been on a self-styled crusade to “make the world safe for democracy.”
Colossal wars, hot and cold, were fought against German kaisers and fuhrers, Russian communists, and Third World nationalists. The American people were told they were “defending democracy.”
Americans slaughtered 3.5 million Vietnamese, and nearly another million Cambodians, to “defend democracy” in Southeast Asia.
They murdered millions of Iraqis through wars and sanctions to “defend democracy” in the Middle East.
According to André Vltchek and Noam Chomsky’s book On Western Terrorism, the US government has murdered between 55 and 60 million people since World War II in wars and interventions all over the world. If we believe the imperial propagandists, this American Holocaust has been one big defense of democracy.
But now, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of World War I, the US has embarked on a new crusade – to make the world UNSAFE for democracy.
In Ukraine, Venezuela, and Thailand, the US is spending billions of dollars to unconstitutionally eject democratically-elected governments. In Palestine, the US has been trying to overthrow the democratically-elected Hamas government ever since it came to power. In Egypt, the US – under Zionist pressure – recently overthrew the only genuinely democratic government in 5,000 years of recorded history. In Syria, the US insists that the people must not be given the opportunity to re-elect Assad, no matter how many international observers and safeguards ensure honest elections. And in Turkey, the US is undermining the democratically-elected Prime Minister Erdogan in favor of CIA puppet Fethullah Gulen.
Taking the long view, the US is working patiently to destroy democracy in Iran, Russia, and Latin America.
Why does the US government hate democracy?
Because the international bankers who own the US government and run the US empire cannot always buy enough votes to impose their will on every country. So democracy is fine – as long as voters elect the New World Order candidate. But if they vote for a candidate who doesn’t suit the oligarchs, get ready for a coup!
The banksters will overthrow any government that stands up to them – even in the USA. The “termination with extreme prejudice” of the presidency of John F. Kennedy sent a message to all future US presidents.
Mayer Rothschild famously said “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.” But that was an exaggeration. The New World Order banksters seek to overthrow democratically-elected governments all over the world precisely because they DO care who makes and enforces the laws.
The NWO banksters are destroying Ukraine as a geostrategic move against Russia, where Putin has reined in the Russian-Zionist oligarchs and put a major roadblock in the path of the banksters’ world government project. Yes, Ukrainian President Yanukovich won a free and fair democratic election. But democracy means nothing to the psychopathic pharaohs of finance and their Neocon hired guns.
The banksters (and the Western governments they control) are also trying to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, who took office after the CIA assassinated Hugo Chavez. President Maduro overcame the banksters’ attempts to defeat him in last year’s elections; he is now the constitutional, democratically-elected President of Venezuela. But that hasn’t stopped the banksters from trying to overthrow him in a pseudo-populist coup.
In Thailand, the banksters and their local kleptocracy are trying to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Shinawatra. Apparently Shinawatra’s attempts to fund education, medical care, and infrastructure, and institute a minimum wage, offended the oligarchs.
In Ukraine, Venezuela, and Thailand, as in Syria and Egypt before them, the banksters are adding violence to their “color revolution” game plan for destroying democracy. This may seem incongruous, since the NWO intellectual hired gun Gene Sharp, the so-called “Machiavelli of non-violence,” designed the original color revolutions as purportedly peaceful and democratic uprisings.
But Sharp’s so-called color revolutions, beginning with Georgia’s Rose Revolution of 2003 and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution of 2004, were never genuine people’s revolutions. They were bankster takeover attempts from the beginning. George Soros would funnel Rothschild money to ambitious, power-hungry apparatchiks, who would inundate their target countries with propaganda and hire rent-a-mobs to dress in a particular color and make a spectacle of themselves in the public square, in hopes of duping naive young people into joining the “revolution” – whose real goal is always to install a NWO puppet leader.
But now the pretense of nonviolence and democracy has evaporated. The New World Order’s smiling Mickey Mouse mask has fallen away, revealing the bloodthirsty grin of satanic banksters bent on establishing an Orwellian one-world dictatorship.
In Syria, the “peaceful uprising” of March 2011 became a pretext for sending in heavily armed thugs and terrorists on a destabilization mission. In Egypt, the bankster-generated “uprising” last summer was a manufactured excuse for a violent coup d’état. In Thailand, Venezuela and Ukraine, the banksters are paying hooligans to stage violent protests, destroy public property, fight police, and incite mayhem – in hopes of violently overthrowing democratically-elected governments.
This is pure fascism.
Fascism is fake populism. Self-styled fascist “revolutionaries” are paid to dress up in colors or uniforms, goose-step around the public square, overthrow democratically-elected governments… and institute a veiled dictatorship of the rich, in which corporate and governmental power merge.
That is what Mussolini did in 1922. It is what Hitler did in 1933. And it is what the neoconservatives, and their bankster sponsors, are doing today… all over the world. The 9/11 Reichstag Fire, which turned the world’s sole superpower decisively toward total fascism, was the gunshot that set off the avalanche.
The end-game: A global fascist dictatorship that would make the Third Reich look like a walk in the park.
There is only one way to defeat these monsters. All great fortunes, beginning with the trillion-dollar treasure hordes of the Rothschilds and their friends, must be confiscated and returned to the public treasury. All of the big banks must be nationalized, and their operations must be made completely transparent. All major financial transactions must be taxed and closely regulated. And all of the biggest corporations, starting with those that own the mainstream media, must be broken into small pieces by anti-trust action.
This revolution – the overthrow of the global oligarchy – is the only revolution that matters.
On Thursday, Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper quoted an unnamed ministerial source in the interim Egyptian government as saying that Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia next Tuesday will result in Cairo receiving a $2 billion aid package, as well as petrol supplies valued at another $2 billion.
Egyptian government spokesman, Hani Salah said that El-Beblawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia will focus on the economic portfolio, as well as the discussion of a number of projects.
Last September, the governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, Hisham Ramez, announced that Cairo had received $1 billion from Riyadh and that his country would receive additional aid from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait, who pledged to grant Egypt a total of $12 billion.
Riyadh had agreed at the end of last July to provide a package of aid to Egypt amounting to $5 billion, including $2 billion in the form of deposits in the Central Bank of Egypt, $2 billion in gas and petroleum materials and $1 billion in cash.
Gulf aid has contributed significantly to alleviating financial pressures on the Egyptian economy, which was severely affected by the unrest following the January 25th Revolution and the military coup last summer. Egypt is expected to reveal the details of a second economic stimulation drive over the next few days, according to a statement made by the Egyptian Ministry of Finance on Tuesday. This initiative aims to increase the country’s growth rate and restore investor confidence which plummeted after the July 2013 military coup.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera English, Ashton suggested that the referendum was an important step towards returning to the path of democracy.
The referendum was boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood and other political forces opposed to the military coup that ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected government on 3 July 2013. In the lead up to the referendum, activists campaigning for a “no” vote were harassed and arrested, and during the two-day election several protesters were even killed.
While Ashton noted that the democratic transition must include everyone, she made an exception for those who support “violence” or “terrorism”.
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Ever since the 3 July military coup that ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected government, the world has stood back to witness the Egyptian authorities’ brazen attempt to cleanse an entire community from Egypt’s population.
As an American citizen I have to ask: how many Egyptians need to be killed, injured, arrested and tortured, and how many families torn apart and destroyed, before the US will take decisive action against Egypt’s post-coup military regime?
And I am not the only American asking this question.
On Friday, the Los Angeles Times newspaper published an editorial under the headline “Stop coddling Egypt’s military”. The editors argue that: “It’s increasingly evident that the military rulers of Egypt are determined to intimidate and silence their political opponents, whether they are members of the Muslim Brotherhood or secular Egyptians who believe the generals are betraying the spirit of the ‘Arab Spring’. Yet the Obama administration continues to entertain the pious hope that Egypt is on the road to an inclusive democracy.”
The editors criticise the US response to the continued crackdown as being “polite to the point of pusillanimity”, and conclude that, “Clearly the current policy of trying not to offend [Egypt's military] isn’t working.”
One week earlier, the Washington Post newspaper published a similar editorial, in which the editors denounce the Egyptian authorities’ criminalisation of the Muslim Brotherhood. The movement was designated a terrorist organisation on 25 December.
The Post’s editors lament how “Egypt has abandoned the path to democracy,” calling this a “tragedy” and asserting that: “The time has come for stronger US protests and action. To remain timid in the face of repression will invite only more.”
So why is the Obama administration not acting? After all, the US is supposedly a global superpower, and we have spent billions of dollars buying Egypt’s friendship.
Well, if we take a closer look at the two countries relations, we see that Egypt has never really been a client state of the US, and in fact the relationship is quite the reverse.
Military aid and “peace”
In February 2012, when Egypt’s military-led government under SCAF indicted 16 Americans working for non-governmental organisations in Egypt on charges of receiving foreign funds to foment unrest, US officials were quick to decry the move, and threatened a halt to American military aid to Egypt. In fact, 40 senators sent a strongly worded letter of warning directly to the former head of Egypt’s military, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee, warned the Egyptian military that, “the days of blank checks are over.”
And yet the following week, the rhetoric coming out of Washington was remarkably softened. According to the Atlantic magazine, officials had initially been so caught up in their outrage over the charges against Americans, including the son of the US Secretary of Transportation, that they did not think about how cutting Egypt’s military aid would have implications for their best friend in the Middle East, Israel.
Egypt is currently the fifth largest recipient of US aid in the world, and cumulatively second only to Israel. Foreign aid to Egypt was negligible until the mid-1970s and only ballooned after Egypt signed the Camp David Accords with Israel in 1978. Since the mid-1980s, Egypt has received annually about $1.3 billion in military aid, while Israel received $1.8 billion until the year 2000, after which military aid to Israel fluctuated between $2 to $3.1 billion.
According to the Washington Institute, military aid to Egypt was initially tied to US aid levels to Israel, which is why the figures remained proportional up until 2000, when the launch of the second Palestinian intifada altered the equation. Two other factors also contributed to the shift. The first is that by the turn of the millennium, Egypt was no longer isolated in the region as a result of its neighbourly relations with Israel. The second is that by then, the US had phased out its economic aid to Israel, allocating part of it instead for military use.
Is it aid or blackmail?
Still, continued US aid to Egypt remains an unwritten condition of the Camp David Accords, and since the January 2011 revolution in Egypt, the Israel Lobby has repeatedly voiced its concern that if the aid were to dry up, then the peace treaty would be in jeopardy.
So it is not surprising that despite being subject to the harshly worded threats, Egypt continued to prosecute the American NGO workers, a political slap in Washington’s face, all the while receiving US military aid. All 16 Americans, along with 27 of their Egyptian peers, were eventually convicted and sentenced in absentia in June 2013.
This case is interesting for two reasons. One is that it highlights how US aid to Egypt is meant first and foremost to please and protect Israel. The second is that the Egyptian military regime knows this, and thus acts with impunity. The case against the 16 American NGO workers illustrates that. But so does the history of US economic aid to Egypt.
The US has always employed its foreign aid as a political tool, and its economic assistance is handled by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Both during the Cold War and in the neoliberal era, USAID projects have come with conditions strongly favouring free markets and privatisation. But interestingly, in the case of Egypt, scholar Bessma Momani argues that: “the Egyptian government perceived the aid programme as an entitlement for signing the Camp David Accord, where equality of treatment between Egypt and Israel was supposedly guaranteed. In consequence, USAID found that the aid at its disposal did not give the organisation any real influence to induce Egypt to alter its economic policies.”
Writing in 1997, scholar Duncan Clarke also noted that Egypt views the American funds as its entitlement for making peace with Israel, thus despite the massive amounts of US aid to Egypt, “The remarkable absence of vigorous, reliable Egyptian advocates of the US is particularly striking.” In 1991, the US and its allies even agreed to forgive half the $20.2 billion debt that Egypt owed to them, in thanks for Egypt’s support during the Persian Gulf War. Nevertheless, Momani suggests that during this time, the Egyptian government was still not willing to alter its economic policy enough for Washington’s liking.
Continually frustrated by Egypt’s unwillingness to “reform” its state driven economy, in 1993 the US decided to privatise its economic aid to Egypt. Momani describes how Cairo and Washington set up a “Presidents’ Council” consisting of 15 American and 15 Egyptian corporate representatives to manage private American investment in Egypt as an alternative to official US government aid. Oil executives along with major US multinationals comprised the American team, while companies that had well-established connections with the Egyptian elite and were close to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak made up the Egyptian team, which was headed by Mubarak’s son Gamal.
In this way Egypt’s rulers successfully transformed the US’s ideologically driven neoliberal policy into a crony trade relationship that directly profited the Mubarak regime.
How US aid to Egypt works
There are other aspects of the bilateral relationship that also limit Washington’s options.
All US military aid to foreign countries is deposited into an account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as part of the Foreign Military Financing programme, which is run by a division of the Pentagon called the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). Nearly all countries have to spend the funds the US allocates each year, but Egypt is allowed to place orders on credit, which means that Egypt usually has a backlog of orders before the annual aid is even dispersed. The only other country granted this privilege is Israel.
The Washington Institute cites estimates that Egypt currently has about “$4 billion in outstanding contractual commitments to be paid by cash-flow financing”. In other words, Egypt has run up a $4 billion debt to satisfy its rapacious appetite for American-made weapons and military equipment, and all at the expense of US taxpayers, whose money is being funnelled into the pockets of American weapons manufacturers.
That’s why throughout the recent crackdown, the contracts never stopped coming in. According to the Politico web site, the day of the coup the US Army asked for information from contractors interested in building and upgrading F-16 bases in Egypt. And less than one week after the Egyptian security forces massacred and wounded thousands of anti-coup protesters in Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Al-Nahda Squares, “the US Air Force awarded a contract to General Electric to upgrade the Egyptian air force’s fighter jets. The deal, worth nearly $14 million, is to extend the lives of 18 engines used on F-16s and other fighters.”
The argument goes that cutting military aid to Egypt would mean that US companies would not get paid for the orders they are processing and this would negatively impact the US economy, resulting in job losses. However, maintaining the aid while stopping the delivery of the American-made weapons and military equipment is a possibility.
A report published by Businessweek magazine last August noted that, “Once the work is completed and the contractor is paid, it’s up to the DSCA to deliver the equipment to Egypt.” And according to the report, as of August the agency was not delivering anything.
This included helicopters, fighter aircraft and tank kits.
The magazine pointed out that: “This wouldn’t be the first time the US withheld military equipment it’s sold to a foreign country. In 1972, Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi paid $70 million for eight C-130 Hercules aircraft. After political tensions arose and relations between the US and Libya became strained, Washington simply decided not to deliver the planes. To this day the aircraft are still sitting outside Lockheed’s plant in Marietta, Ga.”
However, according to Al-Jazeera America, after the Obama administration announced in early October that it would suspend some military assistance to Egypt, “nearly 2,000 tons of critical US military equipment continued to flow to Egyptian ports.” Although there was a delay in the shipment of some fighter jets, other equipment, including several kinds of vehicles used for crowd control, missile systems and spare parts for tanks, helicopters and fighter jets, among other items, continued to depart from eastern US ports to Egypt.
And then there is “war on terror”
So if the aid was supposedly halted, what is the catch?
One problem is that the Obama administration has repeatedly vowed to continue its provision of weapons and military equipment to help the Egyptian authorities fight “terrorism” in the Sinai, which shares a border with Israel.
Another is that the shipments mainly contain spare parts. As Al-Jazeera America points out, during the 1980s and 1990s, US military aid “led Egypt to phase out its Soviet-made arsenal, replacing most of its military equipment with higher-end US products.” Since then, Egypt has amassed an arsenal of American-made weapons and equipment, including thousands of tanks and the fourth-largest fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft in the world.
“There’s no conceivable scenario in which they’d need all those tanks short of an alien invasion,” Shana Marshall of the Institute of Middle East Studies at George Washington University joked to American National Public Radio.
So while Egypt is not in need of more weapons, the existing equipment does get worn out and continues to require a constant supply of spare parts, which the US freely provides. And Marshall also told Al-Jazeera America that: “there’s a lot of pressure on Congress [from the defence industry] to maintain those production lines in their own districts.”
This helps to explain why so many members of Congress, including Eliot Engel of New York, the most senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed “concern” when the Obama administration announced that it was withholding selected aid in October.
That said, some members of Congress did actively lobby to end military aid to Egypt while the country was under the leadership of President Mohammed Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood, after all, always did entertain the possibility of rethinking the Camp David Accords. Of course, these officials failed to realise that during Egypt’s short-lived democracy, US military aid went directly to Egypt’s military, and not to the civilian government.
In any case, there is public support for an aid freeze. A Pew Research survey in August found that “51 per cent of Americans believe the US should cut off military aid to Egypt to pressure the government there to end the violence against anti-government protesters.” And this number would likely be higher if Americans knew that the dispersal of military aid to Egypt could continue while the deliveries of the weapons are halted, weapons which could then even be sold to other parties for a profit, thus ensuring that American jobs are not lost.
So what is the prognosis for US military aid to Egypt? Is it even possible for the US to follow the European Union’s moral lead and suspend the export of all equipment that could be used by the Egyptian military regime in its ongoing campaign of repression?
Although in October President Obama suspended the delivery of some military equipment to Egypt pending the election of a civilian government, Washington still refuses to call the events surrounding 3 July a “coup”, a determination that would automatically halt all US military aid to Egypt in accordance with US law. And significantly, right after President Obama announced the suspension, Egypt hired a new Washington lobby firm.
Thus it should be no surprise to hear that before going on winter recess, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill on 18 December “that would allow the US to resume its full $1.6 billion aid relationship with Egypt by granting President Obama the power to waive [the federal law on the coup restriction] based on national security,” as reported by the Associated Press. Only a few days before the Senate committee passed this bill, three right wing House Republicans travelled to Cairo to visit General Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi: Louie Gohmert of Texas, Steve King of Iowa and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.
Considering that for Washington, US national security is mainly defined by two key concerns, Israel and the global war on “terror”, and that the three House Republicans have a particular obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood, it is no wonder that Egypt’s interim authorities subsequently declared the movement a terrorist organisation.
And yet the new US law also aims to ensure that: “Egypt continues to implement the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, is fighting terrorism, is allowing the US Army to transit the territory of Egypt, is supporting a transition to an inclusive civilian government, is respecting and protecting the political and economic freedoms of all Egyptians, is respecting freedom of expression and due process of law, and finally, is abiding by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” according to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram Weekly.
While none of these conditions are anything particularly new, Hussein Haridy, a former assistant to the Egyptian foreign minister, has declared the bill “a blatant interference in the domestic affairs of Egypt” that must be firmly rejected by the interim authorities.
So despite Egypt’s continued human rights abuses and the calls from the American media for Washington to take action, US military aid to Egypt will probably continue to flow. Indeed, considering that in November Egypt negotiated a multi-billion dollar weapons deal with Russia, financed by the petrol dollars of the monarchies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the historical imbalance of power between the US and Egypt in the latter’s favour, it seems more likely that if the aid were ever to be cancelled, then it would be the Egyptian authorities making that decision, not Washington.
Members of the democratically elected Government of Egypt have submitted a formal Complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Complaint is accompanied by a Rome Statute Article 12 (3) Declaration giving the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over the situation in Egypt.
The submission of the complaint and declaration by the Government of Egypt allows the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutors to investigate allegations of Crimes against Humanity perpetrated by the military regime following the July 2013 coup d’état.
In July 2013 the Egyptian military led a coup d’état against Egypt’s first democratically elected Government. The coup resulted in the detention of the President and members of the Government of Egypt. In the days after the coup the military regime used extreme force to remove civilians who gathered to protest against the coup. At least a thousand civilians lost their lives and many more were injured during this time. Since then the military regime has attempted to consolidate its position by repressing pro-democracy activists of all types who object to the coup, banning protests and designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation.
As a result of actions taken by the military regime Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and members of the Shura Council (the Upper House of the Egyptian Parliament) appointed an international legal team to advise on the unlawful detention of members of the Government and to investigate criminal acts that had been committed by the military regime.
The legal team is led by Tayab Ali, solicitor and partner of leading human rights law firm ITN Solicitors and includes some of the world’s most distinguished legal figures. It includes the former UK Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Ken Macdonald QC; South African International Lawyer and former UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur, Professor John Dugard SC; renowned human rights barrister, Michael Mansfield QC; war crimes and criminal law expert Stephen Kamlish QC and the distinguished International Criminal Court barrister, Rodney Dixon.
In November 2013 the legal team detailed evidence that had been gathered during their investigation which showed a prima facie case that the military, police and political members of the regime had committed crimes against humanity against Egyptian civilians protesting against the coup.
The Complaint, which was submitted to the ICC on 20 December 2013, includes detailed and compelling evidence that the criminal acts perpetrated by the military regime include murder, unlawful imprisonment, torture, persecution against an identifiable group, enforced disappearance of persons and other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health. The evidence shows that the acts alleged were widespread and systematic.
At a press conference held in Cavendish Hotel, Mayfair, London on Monday members of the legal team detailed the work that had been undertaken to submit the complaint. International Criminal Court legal expert and barrister Rodney Dixon explained that the International Criminal Court should open an investigation into the very serious allegations of international crimes and should do so without delay. He stated: “The ICC has a unique opportunity to contribute to the prevention of widespread crimes being committed against civilians in Egypt. By launching an investigation now the ICC Prosecutor will send a clear signal that the killings and abuses will not go unpunished and must end.”
London solicitor Tayab Ali stated that he had received “overwhelming evidence” from witnesses giving firsthand accounts of what they had seen and experienced. According to Mr. Ali the testimony is supported by graphic images of violence carried out against unarmed civilian protestors. He said “In order for Egypt to return to the democratic process it is essential that the people responsible for the violence following the coup are held accountable for their crimes. There is no hope for democracy and the rule of law in Egypt unless international legal institutions do the job they have been created to do”.
Michael Mansfield QC said “A democratically elected government has been unlawfully overthrown by a military coup. This in itself contravenes the Rule of Law. There has been no accountability for this action which involved clearly documented crimes against humanity. In circumstances where domestic law has failed to provide an effective remedy, it behoves the institutions of international law to seek the application of that law”.
Senior barrister Stephen Kamlish QC outlined the strategy of using the principles of universal jurisdiction to prosecute members of the military regime wherever they should travel to. He explained the growing move by national courts to apply principles of universal jurisdiction and prosecute people suspected of international crimes regardless of where the crimes had been committed.
Former United Nations Special Rapporteur, Professor John Dugard said “The International Criminal Court was established to ensure that crimes against humanity do not go unpunished. It is therefore essential that the Court investigate and prosecute those responsible for the commission of such crimes in Egypt. It is hoped that the present initiative will achieve this purpose and at the same time deter the commission of further such crimes. The International Criminal Court, and indeed the international community, cannot allow an unconstitutional, unrecognised and illegal regime in Egypt to commit grave international crimes with impunity.”
Members of the legal team are expected to meet with the ICC prosecutor over the coming days and weeks in order to support the work the ICC must now undertake. Tayab Ali said “It is essential that the people of Egypt unite to rebuild democracy. This cannot happen until those who have committed crimes against humanity have been held to account”.