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”.
Israeli President Shimon Peres has praised what he describes as “the war” being waged by the Egyptian authorities against the Islamic resistance movement Hamas.
Peres also celebrated, in statements during a meeting held on 5 January with foreign ministry representatives, the incitement campaigns being waged by some of the Egyptian authorities against the Palestinian resistance factions, particularly Hamas.
In the same context, Peres noted, “We may be in isolation, but we are not alone”, adding that: “the Arabs wanted to uproot Israel during its establishment; however, they have become convinced that Israel is not the problem, and they are utterly aware that terrorism is their first enemy.”
Last week, Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim claimed that Hamas had provided military training in the Gaza Strip for members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian authorities have now designated a terrorist organisation.
Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan also praised Egypt’s campaign against Hamas ever since the military coup that deposed the former Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi. He remarked that: “We don’t need to destroy Hamas, as Egypt is playing that role already.”
Attending the Majdi Forum in Kfar Saba, Dagan explained: “Israel has no interest in destroying Hamas, and the reason is the important efforts made by Egypt to dwarf Hamas’s power. And I also see a similar effort exerted by the Gulf countries. The State of Israel is not involved in these efforts.”
Earlier this year, the Egyptian military overthrew the democratically elected Mohammed Morsi. Much has happened since the initial violent crackdown on Morsi’s supporters. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has been around some 80 years, has been labeled a “terrorist organization” by the Egyptian government, and now even bloggers who speak out against the military are being jailed.
Plenty of neocons cheered the military coup from the sidelines when it occurred. With all of their flap about the US “bringing democracy to the world,” this apparently was a case where a coup was necessary.
Now that 6 months has passed, and the Egyptian military continues to flex its iron fist, let’s not forget the neocons who cheered them into power:
John Bolton on July 3: “we needed the military to stop the Muslim Brotherhood, and I think this coup was the right thing.”
Jonathan Tobin on Aug. 8: “There is more to democracy than voting, and any solution that risks giving Morsi another chance to consolidate power would be a disaster for Egypt and the United States. Washington must be prepared to stick with the military no matter what happens in the streets of Cairo.”
Michael Rubin on Aug. 16: “So long as the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to turn back the clock, impose its hateful and intolerant ideology upon Egyptians of all religiosities and religions, and refuses to abide by the pathway to transitional elections, and so long as it continues to fight in the streets, then it should suffer the consequences of its actions. And if those consequences result in exponentially higher Brotherhood casualties than army casualties, then so be it. That is the truest path to peace.”
Peter Wehner on Aug. 20: “So from the perspective of American national security and morality, having the Muslim Brotherhood in power is considerably worse than having the Egyptian military in power.”
Remember the rule: If the winner of a foreign election is someone that the U.S. government approves of: “Democracy = Good”. However, if the U.S. government does not approve of the winner: “Roll in the tanks!”
GAZA CITY – Hamas are a vital component of the Palestinian nationalist struggle and should not abandon their ideology, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said Monday.
The statement from the leftist group was in response to a recent call by the PLO for Hamas to dissociate itself from the Muslim Brotherhood.
“We are not calling on Hamas or other forces to abandon their ideological roots, but we ask everyone to give priority to the interests of the Palestinian people when they build relations with the surrounding Arab and Islamic world,” the PFLP said.
On Saturday, Jamal Muheisin, a Fatah representative in the PLO executive committee, said Hamas should detach itself from the Brotherhood, warning of political, economic, and security consequences if Hamas remained “subordinate” to “this banned terrorist group.”
A representative of the Arab Liberation Front said that Hamas has always prioritized the Muslim Brotherhood’s interests over the interests of the Palestinian people, while Ahmad Majdalani of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front said Hamas was viewed as a terrorist organization by many countries including the United States due to its affiliation with the Brotherhood.
PFLP official Rabah Muhanna was one of many faction leaders who also called upon Hamas to sever relations with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Gaza government spokeswoman Isra Almodallal told Ma’an last week that while Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood may share ideology, they should not be seen as one and the same movement.
“We are in completely different circumstances,” Almodallal said. “We don’t want people to think Hamas is the same as the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“We don’t want Egypt to punish us the way the Muslim Brotherhood is punished in Egypt.”
Almodallal added that Hamas agreed that “at this particular time” it is best to remain neutral in the affairs of other Arab countries.
- PLO Urges Hamas To Sever Ties With Muslim Brotherhood (eurasiareview.com)
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved a bill facilitating the provision of aid to countries ruled by post-coup military governments.
The bill would require the US government to determine when a democratically-elected government has been removed by force, Foreign Policy reported on Wednesday.
The Senate Committee passed the Egypt Assistance Reform Act by a 16-1 vote on Wednesday and the key supporters of the bill, Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), say the congressional legislation would authorize the US administration to maintain ties with strategically important countries like Egypt even after military forces overthrow a democratically-elected government.
“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, the chairman of the Committee.
On July 3, Egypt’s powerful military ousted former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi who was the country’s first democratically-elected head of state.
The administration of US President Barack Obama refused to call the military-led ouster of Morsi a coup because such acknowledgement would trigger an automatic congressional ban on the US aid to the Egyptian military.
Section 7008 of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Law prohibits aid to countries run by post-coup military governments.
Nevertheless, if the new bill makes it into law, the US government would not find itself in the same situation in the future because it is tasked with making a coup determination.
The bill, which was drafted in consultation with the White House, was criticized by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who said, “Instead of holding the Egyptians accountable, this bill will make it easier for the US to send tanks and F-16 fighter jets to a country that suffers endemic violence against political opponents and religious minorities.”
Egypt’s public prosecutor ordered deposed President Mohammed Mursi and 34 other Islamists to stand trial on charges including conspiring with foreign organizations to commit terrorist acts in Egypt and divulging military secrets to a foreign state.
In a statement, the prosecutor said that Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood had committed acts of violence and terrorism in Egypt and prepared a “terrorist plan.”
The charge sheet called it “the biggest case of conspiracy in the history of Egypt”. It accused the Brotherhood of carrying out attacks on security forces in North Sinai after he was deposed on July 3.
It said the Brotherhood had hatched a plan dating back to 2005 that would send “elements” to the Gaza Strip for military training.
The trial appears to stem from an investigation into prison breaks during a 2011 uprising against strongman Hosni Mubarak, when Mursi and other Islamist prisoners escaped.
Prosecutors have alleged the jailbreaks were carried out by Palestinian and Lebanese groups, who had members imprisoned under Mubarak.
Mursi is already standing trial for inciting violence during protests outside the presidential palace a year ago when he was still in office. He was ousted in July by the army following mass protests against his rule.
The Egyptian authorities have launched a fierce crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since Mursi was removed from power, killing hundreds of his supporters during protests and arresting thousands more.
(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)
As the deadly crackdown on the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins by supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi was coming to an end on August 14, word spread that a photographer called Mosa’ab Elshamy was killed. It wasn’t long before the 23-year-old photographer assured his friends and colleagues that it was another photographer by the same name who had been killed in Alexandria. The relief was soon replaced by the realization that another set of strangers were mourning the loss of their friend. This type of tragedy and conflict is what Elshamy is skillful at documenting.
His portfolio is spread out on the front pages of the world’s top publications. One of his photos was chosen among Time magazine’s top ten this year. It depicts a man carrying a lifeless body during a deadly crackdown on Morsi supporters on July 27. Three years abundant with street clashes, with no professional training but with “a lot of trial and error,” have honed an eye capable of capturing both emotion and motion. Elshamy’s courage is often commended by his more seasoned peers.
I first knew of the young photographer when he was arrested in May 2011 during clashes near the Israeli embassy. A military court handed him and others a suspended sentence. He was still a pharmacy student when his eye was injured with glass shrapnel while covering clashes in December of the same year. This paper gave him his first professional assignment in 2012. The first time we worked together was in Suez while covering the presidential elections.
Sitting with him over a year and a half later, his signature smile frailly masked the violence and loss he had witnessed. Our conversation moved from the financial and security risks of being an independent photojournalist to the struggle to maintain professional integrity in a heavily politicized society, especially with his older brother, al-Jazeera journalist Abdallah Elshamy, behind bars. The guilt of having a flourishing career in the midst of tragedy pierced through.
This is an edited transcript of our conversation.
Since June, what has been your most memorable photo?
I think it’s the picture I took in Iman Mosque, which was where the bodies were moved from Rabaa after it was cleared. Some were torched and it was really awful. But there is a picture that really stuck with me which was the photo of the wife of one of the victims. The man was called Mohamed Yaqoot– an engineer. The Iman Mosque was very big and there were over 400 bodies being sorted out, many unidentified. [The wife] has been looking for over an hour for the body. He was lying in a coffin with no identification. So, she was actually going through every unidentified coffin and when she found him, she threw herself on him and obviously it was heartbreaking. So, it was this picture that really stuck with me for such a long while, because it just showed so much of the catastrophe, so much of the human disaster and the insanity that has torn so many families apart.
I remember your tweets on August 14 describing that you left because a bullet flew next to your ear. Was this the most dangerous and life threatening situation you’ve ever been in?
Do you think you were targeted or was it random?
I’m more inclined to believe it was random. Perhaps, it would have been a bit safer to know that they were actually there for the sake of law and order, that they were actually confronting the people who had guns, but that wasn’t the case. I was there for more than six hours and people at the very back were being shot. People who were sitting under a tree were being shot. All of these people who were falling next to me showed absolutely no form of distinction. That was the scariest part about Rabaa.
I’d like to believe I was really cautious and I knew I had to be extremely cautious that day and I did stick to all these rules I made for myself. Like not getting close, always being under or next to a car or a tree or a block. Always keeping my head really low, staying in side streets most of the time, making sure I’m not in the middle. They had this pattern of teargassing then shooting in the middle. Never staying in a place for more than 20 seconds. These were the sort of things that I had developed and learned over the months since January . But the thing about Rabaa is that really it was about how lucky you were that day. That’s what I came to realize – that I was absolutely lucky.
[Photoset of the Rabaa crackdown here].
What got you into photography, specifically photojournalism? You got interested at the time when it was the most dangerous.
I got into photography in 2005. I was 16. The concept of composing pictures really did take over me – mostly just different genres of nature photography. It always terrified me a little bit to go out on the street. Then in June 2010, which was also around the same time I actively got into politics like so many who were moved by the Khaled Said incident and the wave of protests that had taken over the country, I was starting to break at least this fear of going into the street. There were very few incidents where I would take my camera with me. I wouldn’t say it was more dangerous than now, but it had its own risk [of] being on the street with your camera in a protest, especially that [protesters] almost always would get beaten.
In 2011 when the protests started, I also took my camera – not on the first day, not on January 25, but on the 26th and the 27th when there were sporadic protests. It was on Talaat Harb Street. We were sitting at the Borsa [café] and there was this protest that began out of nowhere and it was quite big and it was night. All of a sudden the [protesters] were faced by a cordon and the police started beating everybody, and I had my camera. So it got completely destroyed.
Since then, you’ve lost…
Yes quite few. But that one was really painful because I had gotten it a few months earlier. It was in Summer 2010 that I invested actual money in a camera and then it got broken on January 27, which was such a bummer because then I spend the next 15 days, especially the Friday of Rage, without a camera.
So there is always this bitterness and this extra anger that I don’t have my camera on me and so much is happening, so the most I did was tweet and take some phone pictures.
Being an independent journalist, how do you manage the loss of equipment?
There’s definitely an extra risk. As an independent you really don’t get covered. Not to mention sometimes you don’t have a press identification on you. So it’s not just about the camera. With my brother [in jail] – there’s an independent photographer and he can’t prove to them that he’s a journalist.
The financial aspect of it gets much more pressuring because you have no one who could cover you if you lose equipment, except on very few occasions when you are being assigned. How do I cope with it? I’ve had days when I wasn’t able to do that and had to borrow lenses. It’s rewarding when you are able to [find ways around it].
You mentioned that you became interested in photojournalism when you got interested in politics. How do you balance both and maintain your integrity as a journalist?
This has always been a very difficult. I would say that as a rule: When it comes to choosing, not sides, but choosing what to cover – because there’s always so much to cover – I always find myself inclined to choose the [side of the] ones who get very little media attention. Not just that, but the ones actually facing the wrath of the state, including its media institutions and sometimes even public opinion. So this is why in 2011, when the revolutionaries were always in the streets I was naturally inclined to be out with them. And even though on a very political and personal level, which I obviously almost always keep to myself, I would be with them, I would cover these clashes because they were the weaker side.
The dynamics are always changing. And now, it’s the Brotherhood who are basically back in this spot. It’s easier to take this decision to be in Rabaa, to be in Nahda, rather than be in Tahrir when you know all the cameras are there. I also tend to think, which will be more challenging to cover: a random celebration in Tahrir or a protest which will get teargassed to hell?
As a journalist, I know that at a lot of times I will have to be covering something that on a very personal level I’m not invested in, or even sometimes I’m completely against. But I need to do that because otherwise you are risking your integrity. Which is why June 30 was very difficult on the professional level … a conflicting task. [In Tahrir], the mood was very jubilant, and then going to Rabaa that same night when Morsi was toppled and seeing the complete opposite of that.
There is this conflict and in Egypt as these lines are being drawn and the polarization is [getting] more solidified, it just becomes more difficult trying to keep what I would say your journalistic neutrality – as in being here and being there.
Your brother was arrested in Rabaa and he works for al-Jazeera which is …
The devil – yes. How do you factor all of this into your reputation as a journalist away from your older brother?
As a general rule I have absolutely no problem with this fact. We are three in my family and my brother works for al-Jazeera. I’ve expressed to him my discontent with some of al-Jazeera’s work. When he was here reporting I would always try and tell him what I think very honestly and he took that very well. It’s something that did harm him in the end, because even before he was arrested, there’d been too much defamation going on against him. Generally speaking, what he works for doesn’t really change what I think of his own journalistic integrity, especially since I [have been] following his work very closely since he was in Misrata during the Libyan revolution, in Mali, and in Syria. That’s something to be actually proud [of], regardless of the outlet he works for, which I think does have many of its ups and downs. And to be honest, I think they have been vilified a lot more than they should have, but that’s another story.
But when it comes to me, I know that I should be accounted for what I do and there have been instances where also I’ve been accused of such things. It does get crazy because this is the general mood.
To end it on a happy note, what has been the most gratifying moment in your career?
I don’t think this is going to be happy. Starting with June 30 and Manasa [July 27] and Rabaa and Ramsis [Aug. 16], somehow these were the most terrible things I have ever covered or clashes I’ve been to, and the pictures and all the memories. But in a way this completely pushed me forward on a professional and career level. I’ve been to places I’ve always dreamed of featuring my photos in and I got invitations to exhibit my pictures and have been considered for workshops that I’ve always loved. This is always the conflict that we are in: that it takes a disaster or sometimes a very gruesome event for you to be able to move forward in your career. Very, very sadly.
I’m thankful more than anything that I was here when this happened and I at least showed what I wanted to show, which is the loss of humanity on the streets of Egypt, and this has been very morally satisfying. Very simply on Twitter, people told me that they didn’t care much about the people in Rabaa until they saw some of my pictures. On the other side, some people were happy about the Copts being killed in Warraq but when they saw my pictures they were like, “I’m sorry I shouldn’t have thought like that.” More than anything, this is really what I find very satisfying. I’m able in my own very individual and unique and humble way to keep people slightly more human.