An arrest order has been issued for ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi over suspected links to Hamas. State media reports the Muslim Brotherhood leader has already been questioned and confronted with the evidence.
Morsi has been detained for 15 days and will be subjected to questioning over suspicions Hamas helped orchestrate his escape from prison in 2011, reported Reuters, citing Mena state media. Morsi has allegedly already been “confronted with the evidence.” During the uprisings that overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak two years ago there were a number of attacks on police stations that led to the escape of Islamists and political inmates.
The accusations set against Morsi also include killing officers and prisoners and kidnapping soldiers.
The ousted president has been held in an unknown location since he was removed from office on July 3 by the military.
The Muslim Brotherhood has condemned Morsi’s detention as “ridiculous” and a “return to the Mubarak regime.”
The UN has urged the Egyptian military to free Morsi along with other Brotherhood leaders “without delay.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls “on the interim authorities to ensure law and order along with guaranteeing the safety and security of all Egyptians.”
Egypt is preparing for another day of violent protests as Morsi’s followers and the military opposition have both planned mass rallies.
The two groups are at loggerheads over the future of the Arab world’s most populous country. A military official told Reuters that the army has given the Muslim Brotherhood until Saturday to join the so-called “road map” to new elections.
The Brotherhood fears a military led crackdown on the political party that won the Egyptian elections last summer.
“We are continuing our protests on the streets. In fact we believe that more people will realize what this regime really represents – a return of the old state of Mubarak, with brute force,” Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said.
In some of the worst violence since the unrest began in Egypt, 50 Morsi supporters were gunned down at a Cairo barracks on July 8 by security forces.
One consumes U.S. corporate media at the risk of one’s sanity. Schizophrenia, for example, appears to be the permanent mental state at the New York Times, which cannot figure out which global reality is operative on any given day. Last week, the Times almost simultaneously painted a picture of two different and contradictory worlds – or, at least, two very different Obama administrations. On Friday, June 5, in the wake of the military coup against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Times depicted the Obama administration as totally unruffled by the turmoil in Cairo – as if the U.S. had little stake in the outcome. The Times headline proclaimed: “Egypt Crisis Finds Washington Largely Ambivalent and Aloof.” The newspaper of record gave the impression that Egypt was no longer a “strategic player” in the region and, therefore, the political complexion of its government was nothing for Washington to worry its last nerve about.
By Saturday, July 6, the article had been replaced by reporting on what the Obama administration had really been up to as the coup unfolded. It described President Morsi’s “last hours” in office, awaiting his fate at the hands of an Egyptian military that has been a United States asset for the last 40 years. An Arab foreign minister telephoned to ask if Morsi would accept the appointment of a new prime minister and cabinet, which would make Morsi a mere figurehead. The Arab foreign minister made it clear that he was acting as an emissary of Washington.
Morsi rejected the offer. His top foreign policy advisor stepped out of the room to call the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, and tell her so. But, when he came back, he said he’d been on the phone with Susan Rice, Obama’s national security advisor, in Washington, who advised him that the coup was about to begin.
So, of course, the U.S. was deeply involved in the events that were swirling in Cairo – it would have been bizarre beyond belief if the superpower had, indeed, been “ambivalent” or “aloof” about the fate of the Arab world’s most populous country. What is amazing, is the ability of an organization as large as the New York Times to accommodate two opposite realities within its own pages, and pass off both as the truth, without shame or even visible embarrassment.
The New York Times and its corporate colleagues are not in the business of providing reliable information, but of rationalizing and sanitizing the behavior of those in power. If there are contradictions in the narrative, they can always be papered over with more lies in the next edition.
However, the lies told by the Times and its ilk cannot alter the reality of U.S. decline; they can only make Americans oblivious to the facts. The United States will get the kind of civilian front men it wants in Egypt: international corporate citizens like economist el-Hazem Beblawy, as interim prime minister, and Mohamed ElBaradei, the darling of the global rich, as a vice president. But the U.S. is also now dependent on Muslim fundamentalists as the foot soldiers of imperialism in Syria and North Africa, even as it double-crossed its Muslim Brotherhood friend, former president Morsi. And the Arab royals of the Persian Gulf have their own plans for the region. The superpower isn’t as super as it used to be – but you won’t find out why in the New York Times.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
The road that has been taken in Egypt is a dangerous one. A military coup has taken place in Egypt while millions of Egyptians have cheered it on with little thought about what is replacing the Muslim Brotherhood and the ramifications it will have for their society. Many people in cheering crowds have treated the Egyptian military’s coup like it was some sort of democratic act. Little do many of them remember who the generals of the Egyptian military work for. Those who are ideologically opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood have also cheered the military takeover without realizing that the military takeover ultimately serves imperialist behaviour. The cheering crowds have not considered the negative precedent that has been set.
Egypt was never cleansed of corrupt figures by the Muslim Brotherhood, which instead joined them. Key figures in Egypt, like Al-Azhar’s Grand Mufti Ahmed Al-Tayeb (who was appointed by Mubarak), criticized the Muslim Brotherhood when Mubark was in power, then denounced Mubarak and supported the Muslim Brotherhood when it gained power, and then denounced the Muslim Brotherhood when the military removed it from power. The disgraced Muslim Brotherhood has actually been replaced by a far worse assembly. These figures, whatever they call themselves, have only served power and never democracy. The military’s replacements for the Muslim Brotherhood – be it the new interim president or the leaders of the military junta—were either working with or serving the Muslim Brotherhood and, even before them, Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
The Undemocratic Egyptian Full Circle
Unlike the protests, the military takeover in Egypt is a blow to democracy. Despite the incompetence and hypocrisy of the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership, it was democratically elected into power. While the rights of all citizens to demonstrate and protest should be protected and structured mechanisms should securely be put into place in all state systems for removing any unpopular government, democratically-elected governments should not be toppled by military coups. Unless a democratically-elected government is killing its own people arbitrarily and acting outside the law, there is no legitimate excuse for removing it from power by means of military force. There is nothing wrong with the act of protesting, but there is something wrong when a military coup is initiated by a corrupt military force that works in the services of Washington and Tel Aviv.
Things have come full circle in Cairo. The military oversight over the government in Cairo is exactly the position that Egypt’s corrupt military leaders wanted to have since the Egyptian elections in 2012 that brought the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party into power. Since then there has been a power struggle between the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Expecting to win the 2012 elections, at first the Egyptian military fielded one of its generals and a former Mubarak cabinet minister (and the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak), Ahmed Shafik, for the position of Egyptian president. If not a Mubarak loyalist per se, Shafik was a supporter of the old regime’s political establishment that gave him and the military privileged powers. When Ahmed Shafik lost there was a delay in recognizing Morsi as the president-elect, because the military was considering rejecting the election results and instead announcing a military coup.
The High Council of the Armed Forces, which led Egypt’s military, realized that a military coup after the 2012 elections would not fare too well with the Egyptian people and could lead to an all-out rebellion against the Egyptian military’s leadership. It was unlikely that many of the lower ranking soldiers and commissioned officers would have continued to follow the orders of the Egyptian military’s corrupt upper echelons if such a coup took place. Thus, plans for a coup were aborted. Egyptian military leaders instead decided to try subordinating Egypt’s civilian government by dissolving the Egyptian Parliament and imposing a constitution that they themselves wrote to guarantee military control. Their military constitution subordinated the president’s office and Egypt’s civilian government to military management. Morsi would wait and then reinstate the Egyptian Parliament in July 2012 and then nullify the military’s constitution that limited the powers of the presidency and civilian government after he worked with the US and Qatar to pacify Hamas. Next, Morsi would order Marshall Tantawi, the head of the Egyptian military, and General Anan, the second most power general in the Egyptian military, into resigning- neither one was a friend of democracy or justice.
Was Morsi’s Administration Really a Muslim Brotherhood Government?
Before it was ousted, the Muslim Brotherhood faced serious structural constraints in Egypt and it made many wrong decisions. Since its electoral victory there was an ongoing power struggle in Egypt and its Freedom and Justice Party clumsily attempted to consolidate its political control over Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts to consolidate power meant that it has had to live with and work with a vast array of state institutions and bodies filled with its opponents, corrupt figures, and old regime loyalists. The Freedom and Justice Party tried to slowly purge the Egyptian state of Mubarak loyalists and old regime figures, but Morsi was forced to also work with them simultaneously. This made the foundations of his government even weaker.
The situation for the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012 was actually similar to the one Hamas faced in 2006 after its electoral victories in the Palestinian elections. Just as Hamas was forced by the US and its allies to accept Fatah ministers in key positions in the Palestinian government that it formed, the Muslim Brotherhood was forced to do the same unless it wanted the state to collapse and to be internationally isolated. The main difference between the two situations is that the Muslim Brotherhood seemed all too eager to comply with the US and work with segments of the old regime that would not challenge it. Perhaps this happened because the Muslim Brotherhood feared a military takeover. Regardless of what the reasons were, the Muslim Brotherhood knowingly shared the table of governance with counter-revolutionaries and criminals.
In part, Morsi’s cabinet would offer a means of continuation to the old regime. Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, Morsi’s top diplomat, was a cabinet minister under Marshal Tantawi and served in key positions as Mubarak’s ambassador to the United States and Saudi Arabia. Morsi’s cabinet would only have a few members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party whereas the ministerial portfolios for the key positions of the Interior Ministry, Defence Ministry, and the Suez Canal Authority would be given to Mubarak appointees from Egypt’s military and police apparatus. Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi, Mubarak’s head of Military Intelligence who has worked closely with the US and Israel, would be promoted as the head of the Egyptian military and as Egypt’s new defence minister by Morsi. It would ironically, but not surprisingly, be Al-Sisi that would order Morsi’s arrest and ouster after extensive consultations with his American counterpart, Charles Hagel, on July 3, 2013.
The Muslim Brotherhood and the Obama Administration: An Alliance of Convenience?
As a result of the Muslim Brotherhood’s collaboration with the US and Israel, large components of the protests in Egypt against Morsi were resoundingly anti-American and anti-Israeli. This has to do with the role that the Obama Administration has played in Egypt and the regional alliance it has formed with the Muslim Brotherhood. In part, it also has to do with the fact that Morsi’s opponents – even the ones that are collaborating with the US and Israel themselves – have capitalized on anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments by portraying Morsi as a US and Israeli puppet. In reality, both the United States and Muslim Brotherhood have tried to manipulate one another for their own gains. The Muslim Brotherhood has tried to use the Obama Administration to ascend to power whereas the Obama Administration has used the Muslim Brotherhood in America’s war against Syria and to slowly nudge the Hamas government in Gaza away from the orbit of Iran and its allies in the Resistance Bloc. Both wittingly and unwittingly, the Muslim Brotherhood in broader terms has, as an organization, helped the US, Israel, and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms try to regionally align the chessboard in a sectarian project that seeks to get Sunnis and Shias to fight one another.
Because of the Freedom and Justice Party’s power struggle against the Egyptian military and the remnants of the old regime, the Muslim Brotherhood turned to the United States for support and broke all its promises. Some can describe this as making a deal with the “Devil.” At the level of foreign policy, the Muslim Brotherhood did not do the things it said it would. It did not end the Israeli siege on the people of Gaza, it did not cut ties with Israel, and it did not restore ties with the Iranians. Its cooperation with the US allowed Washington to play the different sides inside Egypt against one another and to hedge the Obama Administration’s bets.
The Muslim Brotherhood miscalculated in its political calculus. Morsi himself proved not only to be untrustworthy, but also foolish. Washington has always favoured the Egyptian military over the Muslim Brotherhood. Like most Arab militaries, the Egyptian military has been used as an internal police force that has oppressed and suppressed its own people. Unlike the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian military gives far greater guarantees about the protection of US interests in Egypt, Israel’s security, and US sway over the strategically and commercially important Suez Canal. Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood had its own agenda and it seemed unlikely that it would continue to play a subordinate role to the United States and Washington was aware of this.
Revolution or Counter-Revolution?
Indeed a dangerous precedent has been set. The events in Egypt can be used in line with the same type of standard that allowed the Turkish military to subordinate democracy in Turkey for decades whenever it did not like a civilian government. The Egyptian military has taken the opportunity to suspend the constitution. It can now oversee the entire political process in Egypt, essentially with de facto veto powers. The military coup not only runs counter to the principles of democracy and is an undemocratic act, but it also marks a return to power by the old regime. Egypt’s old regime, it should be pointed out, has fundamentally always been a military regime controlled by a circle of generals and admirals that operate in collaboration with a few civilian figures in key sectors.
Things have really gone full circle in Egypt. The judiciary in Egypt is being aligned with the military or old regime again. Mubarak’s attorney-general, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, who was removed from power in November 2012 has been reinstated. The Egyptian Parliament has been dissolved again by the leaders of the High Council of the Armed Forces. President Morsi and many members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been rounded up and arrested by the military and police as enemies of the peace.
Adli (Adly) Al-Mansour, the Mubarak appointed judge that President Morsi was legally forced to appoint as the head of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, has now been appointed interim president by the High Council of the Armed Forces. Al-Mansour is merely a civilian figure head for a military junta. It is also worth noting that the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, like much of the Mubarak appointees in the Egyptian judiciary, has collaborated with the Egyptian military against the Muslim Brotherhood and tried to dissolve the Egyptian Parliament.
Mohammed Al-Baradei (El-Baradei / ElBaradei), a former Egyptian diplomat and the former director-general of the politically manipulated International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has been offered the post of interim prime minister of Egypt by the military. He had returned to Egypt during the start of the so-called Arab Spring to run for office with the support of the International Crisis Group, which is an organization that is linked to US foreign policy interests and tied to the Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Al-Baradei himself has been delighted every time that the Egyptian military has announced a coup; he supported a military takeover in 2011 and, to his benefit, he has supported it in 2013. Where he could not secure a position for himself through the ballot box, he has been offered a government position undemocratically through the military in 2013.
Many of the Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters are emphasizing that an unfair media war was waged against them. The Qatari-owned Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, Al Jazeera’s Egyptian branch which has worked as a mouth piece for the Muslim Brotherhood, has been taken off the air by the Egyptian military. This, along with the ouster of Morsi, is a sign that Qatar’s regional interests are being rolled back too. It seems Saudi Arabia, which quickly congratulated Adli Al-Mansour, is delighted, which explains why the Saudi-supported Nour Party in Egypt betrayed the Muslim Brotherhood. Other media linked to the Muslim Brotherhood or supportive of it have also been censored and attacked. Much of the privately owned media in Egypt was already anti-Muslim Brotherhood. Like Gran Mufti Ahmed Al-Tayeb, many of these media outlets were supportive of Mubarak’s dictatorship when he was in power, but only changed their tune when he was out of power. The point, however, should not be lost that media censorship against pro-Muslim Brotherhood media outlets does not equate to democratic practice whatsoever.
The figures that have supported the military coup, in the name of democracy, are themselves no friends of democracy either. Many of these opportunists were Mubarak lackeys. For example, the so-called Egyptian opposition leader Amr Moussa was highly favoured by Hosni Mubarak and served as his foreign minister for many years. Not once did Moussa ever bother or dare to question Mubarak or his dictatorship, even when Moussa became the secretary-general of the morally bankrupt and useless Arab League.
The Egyptian Coma Will Backfire on the US Empire
Despite the media reports and commentaries, the Muslim Brotherhood was never fully in charge of Egypt or its government. It always had to share power with segments of the old regime or “Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s men.” Key players in different branches of government and state bodies from the old regime stayed in their places. Even President Morsi’s cabinet had members of the old regime. The discussions on Sharia law were predominately manipulated by the Muslim Brotherhood’s opponents primarily for outside consumption by predominantly non-Muslim countries and to rally Egypt’s Christians and socialist currents against Morsi. As for the economic problems that Egypt faced, they were the mixed result of the legacy of the old regime, the greed of Egypt’s elites and military leaders, the global economic crisis, and the predatory capitalism that the United States and European Union have impaired Egypt with. Those that blamed Morsi for Egypt’s economic problems and unemployment did so wrongly or opportunistically. His administration’s incompetence did not help the situation, but they did not create it either. Morsi was manning a sinking ship that had been economically ravaged in 2011 by foreign states and local and foreign lenders, speculators, investors, and corporations.
There was an undeniable constant effort to sabotage the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule, but this does not excuse the incompetence and corruption of the Muslim Brotherhood. Their attempts at gaining international respectability by going to events such as the Clinton Global Initiative hosted by the Clinton Foundation have only helped their decline. Their hesitation at restoring ties with Iran and their antagonism towards Syria, Hezbollah, and their Palestinian allies only managed to reduce their list of friends and supporters. All too willingly the Muslim Brotherhood seemed to let itself be used by the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to pacify Hamas in an attempt to de-link the Palestinians in Gaza from the Resistance Bloc. It continued the siege against Gaza and continued to destroy the tunnels used to smuggle daily supplies by the Palestinians. Perhaps it was afraid or had very little say in the matter, but it allowed Egypt’s military, security, and intelligence apparatuses to continue collaborating with Israel. Under the Muslim Brotherhood’s watch Palestinians were disappearing in Egypt and reappearing in Israeli prisons. Morsi’s government also abandoned the amnesty it had given to the Jamahiriya supporters from Libya that took refuge in Egypt.
The United States and Israel have always wanted Egypt to look inward in a pathetic state of paralysis. Washington has always tried to keep Egypt as a dependent state that would fall apart politically and economy without US assistance. It has allowed the situation in Egypt to degenerate as a means of neutralizing the Egyptians by keeping them divided and exhausted. The US, however, will be haunted by the coup against Morsi. Washington will dearly feel the repercussions of what has happened in Egypt. Morsi’s fall sends a negative message to all of America’s allies. Everyone in the Arab World, corrupt and just alike, is more aware than ever that an alliance with Washington or Tel Aviv will not protect them. Instead they are noticing that those that are aligned with the Iranians and the Russians are the ones that are standing.
An empire that cannot guarantee the security of its satraps is one that will eventually find many of its minions turning their backs on it or betraying it. Just as America’s regime change project in Syria is failing, its time in the Middle East is drawing to an end. Those who gambled on Washington’s success, like the Saudi royals, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, will find themselves on the losing side of the Middle East’s regional equation.
From its inception the uprising against President Morsi was aided by the US, researcher and writer Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich told RT. She argues that whoever succeeds the ousted Egyptian leader will likely be beholden to the forces that put him in power.
RT: What do you think the future holds for Mohamed Morsi now?
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich: I don’t think Mohamed Morsi has any place to go to really. There might be a lot of jubilation that the military has removed him from office. President Morsi did make himself very unpopular not only inside Egypt but with his neighbors, the surrounding countries. But that being said, the implications are huge as he was democratically elected. And for the army to step in and remove him from office is a military coup and it is very hard for me to believe that the military would have taken this step without the blessing of the United States.
I know that the Americans said, President Obama said, that they would review aid to Egypt. But [US Secretary of Defense] Chuck Hagel had been on the phone with Egypt for two or three days. Egypt basically owes its military, owes its existence to the United States of America. This is not a step they would take without their blessings.
Mohamed Morsi may be out now, but his followers will not be and we’ll only see an escalation of clashes, which is very unfortunate for the Egyptian people.
‘People rallying against poverty – and Morsi’
RT: You talk about the support the Egyptian military got from the US. But live video from Tahrir Square suggests that there are people out there, a significant if not a majority of the Egyptian population who also want Morsi out of power.
SSU: I’m not arguing with that, I’m talking about a military that gets its support from the United States. You have to understand that a lot of people that are on Tahrir Square right now, many of them are not supporters of Morsi. The military actually put tanks against Morsi’s supporters and was very quick to arrest them.
There are people on the streets. A lot of them may be opposed to Morsi because of the laws that he wanted to establish, but a lot of it is also the economy. The [Egyptian] economy is very poor, these are very poor people. A lot of them are out there maybe protesting the fact that President Morsi was not able to improve the economic conditions better over the last year he had in office.
‘Egyptian army defends US-Israeli interests’
Again, for the military to have stepped in and removed him from power, and especially for General [Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Abdul Fatah Khalil] Al-Sisi, who was instrumental in blocking and enabling the Israelis to kill the Gazans, for them rejoicing over that is just mindboggling. The [Egyptian] military is an instrument of the United States of America, and the billions [of dollars] in support it has gotten for years now goes towards maintaining peace with Israel, not to serve Egyptian people.
Very soon the Egyptian people will wake up and realize that they are perhaps cheering the wrong faction.
American protégé ElBaradei most likely to replace Morsi
RT: The military, having pushed Morsi out of power now, do you think they have a plan who will lead the country next?
SSU: Again, America has invested a lot of time and money into this. Ever since 2007, America knew that former President Mubarak was dying of cancer. There was even a New York Times article in 2007 talking about who would be his replacement. Since 2008, they would have young Egyptians coming to America, go to the State Department, meet at the time Condoleezza Rice and others, and learn how to use modern technology to start an uprising in Egypt.
So this uprising from the very start was aided by the United States and one of the favorite horses in the race has been and continues to be [Nobel Peace Prize winner and opposition leader] Mohammed ElBaradei. He is the one who actually met with the military to remove Morsi.
Interestingly enough, ElBaradei is a member of the International Crisis Group, which is funded by George Soros and also the Carnegie Endowment and Ford Foundation, which during the Cold War was a conduit for CIA money. Although some have said that Mohamed ElBaradei [when he served as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] never pushed hard enough to say that Iran was developing a nuclear program and Israel might have had issues with that, he is in fact a favorite [to succeed Morsi] and he is coming up very prominently right now.
‘Next Egyptian president risks becoming a puppet’
RT: Do you think this is bad for the country right now? Mohammed ElBaradei is internationally respected figure, widely regarded as moderate and pro-democratic force for Egypt.
SSU: ElBaradei absolutely is. But it is bad for any country when somebody is helped from the outside – from forces without – to bring this person to power.
Then that person will automatically turn into a puppet. Their concern will not be for ‘what is good for the country’, their concern is their ambition, and that is always dangerous, whether they are moderate or fundamentalist – it does not matter. It should be an Egyptian decision.
RT: If he is elected into office – do you think that there will be a legitimate popular support for him?
SSU: I think that the people will have to decide. But ultimately, should he be elected into office, which is very likely, one has to remember where he comes from and how he got to become so prominent and whose support he has.
A lot of times it happens in every country and we’re not aware of the forces behind a figurehead or a given politician. And once that plays out, you might realize that it is a bit too late to change the course. But let’s hope for the best.
‘Chaos will prevail’
I don’t think that the followers of President Morsi will sit back and take this very quietly.
My hope and my wish for Egypt is to see a very peaceful process from here on. But I doubt that will be the case. I think chaos will prevail.
RT: Why do you say chaos will prevail?
SSU: The Muslim Brotherhood followers, the people that put Morsi into power, they feel disenfranchised. In fact, all though one does not want to see this conflict at all, they are the ones who have more right to backing the democratically elected president than anyone else.
If they feel they don’t really count anymore, that their votes and voices don’t count, they are going to show reaction, I think it is normal.
CAIRO — Egypt would not sell any more state- owned companies, President Mohamed Morsi said Tuesday.
In his speech to steel industry workers in Helwan district in Cairo on the eve of Labor Day, Morsi said there will be no more selling of the public sector again, stressing that the private sector could not be an alternative for the public sector.
“Egypt encourages the private sector, but this does not mean disregarding the public sector,” he said.
“We will continue the way of late President Gamal Abdel-Nasser who wanted to establish a huge industrial castle in Egypt,” Morsi said, noting that manufacturing and exporting are real indicators for the development of a country.
At a Press Conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Egypt´s President Mohammed Morsi stated, that Egypt was committed to finding a peaceful and legal solution to the crisis in Syria. Today, the official Egyptian State Information Service states, that Egypt has said no to a loan from the International Monetary Fond, IMF, because the IMF´s conditions were unacceptable. Earlier this year, prior to a state visit in India, Morsi pronounced that Egypt has aspirations for joining the BRICS.
Since the discontinuation of the Soviet Union, the bilateral relations between Cairo and Moscow have slowly degraded. The main talking points on the agenda at the talks between Morsi and Putin were the revival of trade, commerce and economic cooperation between the two countries as well as the instability that has swept over Northern Africa and the Middle East since 2011.
Earlier this year, prior to a planned state visit to India, Morsi stated, that Egypt has aspirations of becoming a member of the BRICS, leading to speculations, whether Egypt is planning to assume a similar role as it had during the 1950s and 1960s, where the country walked a tightrope between alignment with Moscow and Washington. As a member of the non-aligned movement, Egypt may very well try to reassert its role as a regional power broker.
A closer alignment of Egypt with Moscow would make the country less dependent on US foreign policy and could, at least to a certain degree, counter the strong influence the USA is asserting over the Arab League through Qatar.
The little Gulf Kingdom has since 2007 grown into a veritable regional political superpower, which has stood and is standing behind many of the sweeping changes which have cast northern Africa and the Middle East into turmoil since 2011. Qatar and the USA are the primary powers behind the attempted subversion of Syria.
The question one may ask is, whether Morsi´s statement, that Egypt is committed to finding a peaceful and legal solution to the crisis in Syria is indicative of a more self-confident Egypt, and an Egyptian president who is aware of the fact that an alignment with the USA and Qatar, without playing the Moscow card, makes him as easily disposable as his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.
There are also other signs which indicate that Morsi may be trying to reassert Egypt´s role as regional power and greater independence from Washington. Morsi´s ambitions to have Egypt become the “E” in something that could become the BRICS+E was one indication. Prior to his visit to India, Morsi also stated, that Egypt is planning to increase its relations with eastern and Asian countries.
Today´s rejection of the IMF´s loan, following talks with the Russian President in Sochi, are lending additional credibility to those who are arguing for an Egyptian realignment to the middle, and the recent signals from the BRICS, that it will create a BRICS development bank, are indicative that Morsi may have substance behind the possible dream of a course change.
Asked about the reasons for turning down the IMF, Mosi said, “We seek to carry out clear changes in the government´s economic program to receive the loan and we are keen on the interests of the Egyptian citizens”. On of the greatest points of critique against Morsi, other than oppression of his political opponents were, that Morsi “already sold out Egypt and its people to the IMF and World Bank, before he even was elected”. With backup from Russia and the other BRICS members however, Morsi would be less dependent on Washington´s and the IMF´s economic dictates. With the World Bank and IMF systems, as some analysts have it, close to exploding into an international scandal which could spell the beginning of the end of the Bretton Woods gentleman´s agreement, Morsi may be making a very wise decision.
Morsi showed true statesmanship when he said, that he is “seeking real investments in Egypt” and that “loans don´t solve problems and are just temporary solutions”. During his interview with Al-Jazeera Morsi also reiterated the importance of maintaining the integrity of Egyptian territory, stating, that “Egypt´s lands are not for sale and are prohibited for non-Egyptians”.
While increased Egyptian self-confidence and increased assertiveness in the Arab League as well as Egypt´s possible influence for finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria may be plausible and welcome, he may still have to tackle internal problems. Consolidating the continuity and stability of the Egyptian government in times of sudden and comprehensive unrest and change may have made sweeping power grabs a tempting solution. As a long-term strategy however, a semi-dictatorial, Muslim Brotherhood influenced Egyptian government is as counter productive to the stability of Egypt´s society and government, as loans are counterproductive as a long-term strategy for economic growth.
During an interview with Al-Jazeera, Morsi also stressed that Egypt is maintaining good relations with Iran and that Egypt´s relations with Iran are not directed against anyone. Morsi reiterated, the importance of Iran´s role with regard to finding a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Syria.
The renewed ties between Cairo and Moscow may also indicate that Russia is planning to play a more active role throughout the Middle East, and that the Russian government is planning to reassert some of the influence Moscow has lost in the region during the last years of the Soviet era and the early 1990s.
A Russian fleet, composed of the anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Panteleyev and the two logistic warships Peresvet and Novelskoy, with a total number of 712 crew have entered the Iranian Army´s first naval zone in Bandar Abbas.
The three vessel´s visit is aiming at consolidating the relations between Iran and Russia and the expansion of interactions between the two countries in the field of naval security. The three Russian warships have left their home port Vladivostok for duty in the world oceans and are visiting Bandar Abbas en route to their operational destinations. The Russian Ministry of Defense has announced, that Russia has begun forming a separate Mediterranean squadron.
The visit of Egypt´s President Morsi to Sochi and the talks with Russian President Putin, Egypt´s interest in joining the BRICS, the rejection of the IMF loan, Morsi´s commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria while stressing the importance of Iran´s role as part of the solution, and Russian commitment to a stronger naval presence in the Mediterranean indicate that Egypt could be playing a key role in limiting the current US Middle East and Northern Africa Pivot. The rejection of the IMF loan and indications to more commitment to democracy could indicate, that Russian influence also has inspired the Muslim Brotherhood led government to bring its own house in order while considering to assume a greater regional role.
Once again world public opinion faces a most bizarre political event: an alliance between political forces on the extreme Right and the Left, including collaboration between NATO regimes and Marxist sects. The apparent ‘unity of opposites’ is a response to alleged policy and institutional changes made by center-left and center-right regimes, which adversely affect both economic and political elites as well as the popular sectors.
The circumstances, under which this unholy alliance takes place, vary according to the type of regime, its policies and the class orientation of the opposition. The best way to analyze the left-right alliance is to examine the cases of Egypt and Argentina.
Egypt: The Alliance between Mubarak-Appointed Judges, Secular Liberals, Leftist Intellectuals and Disenchanted Workers
To understand the alliance between the corrupt remnants of the Mubarak state apparatus and their former political victims from the center-left and secular-right, it is essential to examine the political context, which has evolved since the overthrow of the Mubarak dictatorship in February 2011.
While Islamist and secular democratic forces played a major role in mobilizing millions of Egyptians in ousting the hated US-Israeli client, Hosni Mubarak, it was the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and their fundamentalist rivals, the Salafis, who won the majority of votes in the subsequent elections and formed the first democratically-elected government in Egypt.[i] In the beginning, the Muslim Brotherhood was forced to share power with the ‘transitional military junta’, which had seized power immediately after the ouster of Mubarak. Subsequently President Mohamed Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, convoked elections to a constituent assembly and nominated a commission to write a new constitution. This was backed by a majority of the newly-elected Egyptian parliament. Reflecting the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral victory, the constitutional commission was dominated by its supporters. Many secular liberals and leftists rejected their minority status in the process.
Aside from his work on the constitutional front, Morsi negotiated a financial loan package of $4.5 billion with the IMF, $5 billion from the EU and an additional one billion dollars in US aid. These aid agreements were conditional on President Morsi implementing ‘free market’ policies, including an ‘open-door’ to foreign investment, ending food and fuel price subsidies to the poor and maintaining the humiliating Mubarak-era treaty with Israel, which included Egypt’s participation in the brutal blockade of Gaza.
While the despised US-Israel-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak may have been ousted from power and a new democratically-elected legislature had taken office (temporarily) along with President Morsi, Mubarak supporters continued to dominate key positions in the ministries, the entire judiciary, military and police. Thus powerfully ensconced, the Mubarak elite strove in every way to undermine emerging democratic institutions and processes. The Minister of Defense, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, shielded the police officials and paramilitary forces responsible for the jailing, torture and murder of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators. Mubarak-appointed judges arbitrarily disqualified legislative and presidential candidates, invalidated democratic elections and even ordered the closing of parliament. They then moved to outlaw the elected constituent assembly and the commission set-up to draft the new Egyptian constitution.
In other words, Mubarakites, embedded in the state apparatus, were engaged in an institutional coup d’etat to retain power, destabilize and paralyze the democratically-elected Morsi regime and create political disorder, propitious for a return to their dictatorial rule.
It was the Mubarak-appointed judges’ power-grab that eliminated the separation of powers by imposing arbitrary judicial decisions and powers over and above the hard-won electoral rights of Egyptian citizens and their elected legislature. The judges’ self-proclaimed assumption of legislative and executive supremacy was a direct assault on the integrity of the emerging democratic process.
When President Morsi finally moved to counter the Mubarak-allied judges’ dismissal of legitimately-elected bodies by assuming temporary emergency powers, these judges and their cheerleaders in the Western media accused him of subverting democracy and violating the ‘independence’ of the judiciary. The Western ‘liberal’ outcry at Morsi’s so-called ‘power grab’ is laughable given the fact that they ignored the naked ‘power grab’ of the judges when they dismissed Egypt’s parliament, its free elections and the writing of its new constitution under the leadership of Egypt’s new president. These cries of ‘democracy’ ring hollow from a judiciary, which had shamelessly legalized countless murders, tortures and dictatorial acts committed by Mubarak for over 30 years.
The judges’ democratic posturing and cries of injustice were accompanied by theatrical walkouts and protests aimed at mobilizing public opinion. Apart from a few thousand die-hard Mubarak holdovers, these judges managed to attract very little support, until secular liberals, leftists, trade unionists and sectors of the unemployed decided to intervene and try to win in the streets what they lost at the ballot box.
The popular protests, in contrast to the judges’ defense of Mubarak-era privilege and their blatant power grab, was based on Morsi’s failure to tackle the problems of growing unemployment and plummeting income, as well as his acceptance of IMF demands to end public subsidies for the poor. The secular-liberals joined forces with Mubarak-era judges in their clamor against ‘authoritarianism’ and pushed their own secular agenda against the Islamist tendencies in the regime and in the drawing up of the constitution. Pro-democracy youth sought to exploit the legislative vacuum created when the right-wing judges dismissed the parliament and put forward a vague notion of ‘alternative democracy’ … presumably one which would exclude the votes of the Islamist majority. The trade unions, which had led numerous strikes after the fall of Mubarak and remain a force among factory workers, joined the protests against Morsi, rejecting his embrace of the corporate elite. Even some Islamist groups, disgusted with Morsi’s accommodation with Israel and the US, also joined and took to the streets.
The US and the EU took advantage of the judges’ protest to step in and warn Morsi to abide to a ‘power sharing’ agreement with the Mubarak officials and the military or lose financial aid.
Washington has been playing a clever ‘two track policy’: They support Morsi when he implements a neo-liberal ‘free market’ domestic agenda using the Muslim Brotherhood networks to contain and limit popular protest among Egypt’s poor while threatening US aid if he vacillates on Mubarak-era agreements with Israel to starve Gaza. The White House insists that Morsi continue supplying cheap gas to Tel Aviv, as well as backing ongoing and future NATO wars against Syria and Iran. But the US and EU also want to keep the old reliable Mubarak power centers in place as a check and veto on Morsi in case a powerful anti-Zionist, populist urban movement pressures his regime to backtrack on the IMF program and the hated treaty with Israel.
The constitution, presented by the commission, is a compromise between Islamists, neo-liberals and democratic electoralists. This constitution undermines the judges’ power grab and allows the Morsi government to prosecute or fire the corrupt Mubarak-era officials; it guarantees the primacy of private, including foreign, property; it privileges Islamic law and provides ‘space’ and possibilities for Islamist leaders to restrict the rights of Egyptian women and religious minorities, notably the Coptic Christians.
A democratic vote on the constitutional referendum will test the strength of the pro and anti-government forces. A boycott by secular, liberal and populist-democratic forces will only demonstrate their weakness and strengthen the reactionary coup-makers embedded among the Mubarak-era officials in judiciary, police, military and civilian bureaucracy.
The Left and democratic-secular movements and leaders have formed an opportunistic, de-facto alliance with the Mubarak elite: a marriage of ‘the police club’ with its former victims, ‘the clubbed democrats’ of the recent past. The progressives overlook the danger of the judges’ creeping coup, in their blind effort to undermine the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi regime: It’s one thing to oppose Morsi’s reactionary agenda and the anti-popular votes of a reactionary legislature; it’s something totally different to promote the ouster of a democratically-elected legislature by hold-over judges pushing for the return of despotism. Undermining the democratic process will not only adversely affect President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood but also the democratic opposition. The prime beneficiaries will be the right-wing forces encrusted in the State.
The anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators, who are the clear losers in democratic elections and a minority in the country, burned and trashed the offices and meeting places of the Brotherhood and assaulted their supporters in the worst traditions of the Mubarak era. The self-styled ‘pro-democracy’ activists’ assaults on the Presidential palace and their rejection of Morsi’s call for dialogue has opened the way for the return of military rule. The military command’s thinly veiled threat was evident in their pronouncement that they would intervene with force to maintain order and protect the public if violence continues. The coincidence of prolonged street disorder and assaults on electoral politics with military overtures to take power have a distinct smell of a barnyard confabulation. The right-left alliance makes it difficult to decipher whether the violence is a staged provocation to bring the military back to power or an expression of leftist rage at their electoral impotence.
For strategic, pragmatic and principled reasons, the Left should have denounced the Mubarak-appointed judges the moment they outlawed the elected legislature. The Left should have demanded the ouster of these judges and military leaders and combined their demands with a campaign against Morsi’s ties with the imperial West and Israel and a repudiation of the IMF program. By backing these corrupt judges, progressives gained the short-term support of the Western media and governments while strengthening their strategic enemy.
Argentina: The Right-Left Alliance
President Cristina Fernandez is representative of the center-left regimes, which predominate in Latin America today. Her recent resounding electoral victory[ii] is a product of the popular uprisings (2001-2003), the social reforms and independent foreign policy pursued by her predecessor (and husband) Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and several popular reforms implemented under her Presidency.
But like all center-left regimes, President Fernandez (2008-2012) has combined conservative, neo-liberal and populist progressive policies. On the one hand, Fernandez has encouraged foreign mining companies to exploit the Argentina’s great mineral resources, charging very low royalty payments and imposing very few environmental restraints, while, on the other hand, she nationalized the abusive Spanish multinational oil company, Repsol, for non-compliance with its contract.
The government has substantially increased the minimum wage, including for farm workers, while opening up the country to overseas land speculators and investors to buy millions of acres of farmland. The government has allowed highly toxic-chemicals to be sprayed on fields next to rural communities while increasing corporate taxes and controls over agro-export earnings. The government passed legislation to restrict monopoly ownership of the mass media promising to expand media licensing to local communities and diverse social groups, while doing little to limit the power of big agro-export firms. President Fernandez has supported Latin American integration (excluding the US) and welcomed radical President Chavez as a valuable partner in trade and investment and diversified markets. At the same time Argentina has grown increasingly dependent on a narrow range of agro-mineral (‘primary goods’) exports to the detriment of domestic manufacturing. Presidents Fernandez and Kirchner encouraged trade union activity and, until recently, supported hefty increases in wage, pension and medical benefits, drastically reducing poverty levels – but they did so while maintaining the wealth, land, profits and dividends of the capitalist class.
The Argentine President was able to support both the economic elites and the working class as long as commodity prices and international demand remained high. However, with the economic slowdown in Asia and decline in commodity prices and therefore state revenue, the President is being squeezed from both sides. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the elite attacked the government more ferociously, led by the big and medium-size landowners and exporters. They demanded the government revoke its increase in export taxes and currency controls. The upper-middle and the affluent middle class of Buenos Aires, backed by supporters of the previous military dictatorship, organized mass marches and demonstrations to protest a medley of government policies, including limits on dollar purchases, inflation and inaction amidst rising crime rates.
Around the same time, conservative and radical leftist trade unionists organized a general strike – ostensibly because wage increases had failed to keep up with ‘real’ rates of inflation (double the ‘official rate’ – so they claimed). The major media monopoly, Clarin, organized a virulent systematic propaganda campaign trumpeting the demands of the economic elite, fabricating stories of government corruption and refusing to comply with the new government legislation in hopes of staving off the dismantling of its huge media monopoly.
The US and EU increased pressure on Argentina by excluding it from international capital markets, questioning its credibility, downgrading its ratings and promoting a virulently hostile anti-Fernandez mass media campaign in the financial press.
The destabilization campaign has been orchestrated by the same economic elites who supported the brutal seven-year military dictatorship during which an estimated 30,000 Argentines were murdered by the juntas. Elite opposition is rooted in reactionary social and economic demands, i.e. lower taxes on exports, deregulation of the dollar market, their monopoly of the mass media and a reversal of popular social legislation.
The ‘left opposition’ includes a variety of movements including Marxist grouplets and trade unions who demand salary increases commensurate with ‘real inflation’ as well as environmentalists demanding tighter controls over agro-chemical pollution, GM seeds and destructive mining operations. Many of these demands have legitimacy, however some of the Marxist and leftist groups have been participating in protests and strikes convoked by the right-wing parties and economic elites designed to destabilize and overthrow the government. Few if any have joined with the government to denounce the blatant US-EU credit squeeze and imperial offensive against Fernandez.
This de-facto Right-Left alliance on the streets is led by the most rancid, authoritarian and neo-liberal elites who ultimately will be the prime beneficiary if the Fernandez regime is destabilized and toppled. By joining general strikes organized by the far-Right, the left claims to be ‘furthering the interests of the workers’ and ‘acting independently’ of the economic elite. However, their activities take place at the same time and same location as the hordes of wealthy upper middle class protestors clamoring for the ouster of the democratically elected center-left regime. The left grouplets maintain that they are in favor of building a ‘workers state’ as they march abreast with the rich and militarists. Objectively, their capacity to catalyze a revolution is nil and the real outcome of their ‘opportunism’ will be a victory for the agro-export elite – mass media monopolies – US-EU alliance. The ‘leftist’ workers protest is mere window dressing for the destabilization of a social-liberal democracy and will help return a far-right regime to power!
The majority of the workers, pensioners and trade unionists reject any participation in the bosses’ general strikes – even as they voice their legitimate demands for better pay and the indexing of wage rates to the real inflation rate. However they join with the government in rejecting the international creditor demands and US judicial rulings favoring Wall Street speculators over Argentina’s social interests. Nevertheless, the left-right protest resonates with many rank and file employees, especially when export revenues decline and the Fernandez regime lacks the funds to maintain the social spending of the past decade.
The political challenge for the consequential Left is to defend democracy against this opportunist ‘Left’-Right onslaught while defending workers’ interests in the face of a decaying center-left regime bent on pursuing its contradictory program.
Conclusion: The Dilemmas of Capitalist Democracies
The capitalist democracies of Egypt and Argentina face similar Left-Right alliances, even though they differ sharply in their socio-economic trajectory and social bases of support. Both Argentina and Egypt have emerged from brutal dictatorships in recent years: Argentine democracy is nearly 30 years old while Egyptian democracy is less than a year old. Argentine democracy, like Egypt’s, has been confronting powerful authoritarian institutions leftover from the dictatorial period. These are entrenched especially in three areas: the military and police, the judiciary and among sectors of the capitalist class. They all benefited from the special privileges granted by the dictators.
In Argentina, over the past decade, Presidents Kirchner and Fernandez succeeded in purging the state apparatus of criminals, murderers and torturers among the military, police and judiciary. In Egypt, the Morsi regime, in its short time in office, hesitated at first, but then moved forward replacing some Mubarak military commanders and promising to investigate and prosecute those Mubarak-appointed officials involved in the killing and torture of pro-democracy demonstrators. The Egyptian reactionaries struck back: Mubarak-appointed judges denied the legality of the democratically elected legislature and constituent assembly. In Argentina, powerful agrarian interests and the right-wing mass media conglomerate, which had backed the dictatorships, struck back as the government moved to end the corporate media monopoly and tax concessions to the agro-export elite. The conflict between the dictatorial right and the democratic center-left in Argentina and the conflict between the Mubarak judiciary and the Islamist neo-liberal elected regime is partially obscured by the active involvement of leftists, secular liberals and other ostensibly ‘pro-democracy’ forces on the side of the Right.
Why has ‘the left’ crossed the line, joining forces with the anti-democratic right?
Their opportunism arises primarily from the fact that they did so poorly in the elections and do not see any role for themselves as an electoral opposition. By joining with the right-wing protests, the left and secular liberals mistakenly imagine they can revive their faltering support.
Secondly, the Left senses the economic and social vulnerability of the elected regimes because of the global and local crises, exacerbated by declining export revenues. They hope to attach their political demands to those of the upper and middle class protestors who have been mobilized by the Far Right.
Thirdly, by joining forces with the Right, allied with the US and EU, the leftist protestors hope to gain international (imperial) support, recognition, respectability and legitimacy … temporarily. Of course if the Right succeeds, the Left will be marginalized and discarded as ‘useful idiots’.
The imperial threats to cut off credits, loans and markets to both regimes should logically have led to a united front – a tactical alliance – between the Left and the embattled regime, especially in the case of Argentina. In the case of Egypt, secular liberals and leftists should have joined with the Morsi regime to oust the remnants of the brutal Mubarak regime. They should have supported the elected legislature, even while challenging Morsi’s pacts with the IMF, the US, EU and Israel. Instead, secular liberals appear to agree with the regime in its reactionary socio-economic policies. Worse, by joining with the reactionary judges in totally rejecting the referendum vote on the new constitution, the Left missed an opportunity to mobilize and challenge the regime and educate the public about its specific reactionary clauses.
By opposing the progressive democratic process as well as the regime, the Left has opened the door for the Right to return. By forcing incumbent presidents to ‘make a deal’ or compromise with the elite, the left is further isolating themselves. Both Morsi and Fernandez are vulnerable to leftist pressure and, over time, popular and class-based movements could find themselves in a position to pose a real alternative…. if they clearly and honestly reject the authoritarian and imperialist right. By joining in opportunist alliances to score some small victories today, they foreclose any possible role in the near future of forming progressive democratic leftist governments. By burning government offices and destroying the electoral offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, the self-styled ‘democrats’ are creating the basis for the seizure of state power by the military.
[i] In the parliamentary elections the two major Islamist parties polled over 27 million votes (18 million for the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi), the liberal-left opposition received approximately 7.5 million votes and the Mubarac-era parties got 2 million. The Islamist parties totaled about two-thirds of the electorate, which translated into the same proportion of elected legislators (358 out of 508). The liberal-left parties received slightly over 26% of the vote and the Mubarak parties got about 8%. The anti-Morsi rioters are a clear and decisive minority and their violent assault on the governing regime is, by any measure, an attempt to impose minority rule, denying and marginalizing the nearly 18 million voters who elected the Morsi Government and Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Congress.
[ii] Cristina Fernandez was first elected in October 2007 with 45.3% of the vote, a 22% lead over her nearest rival. In the most recent elections in October 2011, she was re-elected with 54.1% of the vote, a 37.3% margin over her nearest competitor.
James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He is the author of 64 books published in 29 languages, and over 560 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, Temps Moderne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried on the internet. His most recent books are: The Arab Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattack (Clarity Press 2012) 2nd edition, The Power of Israel in the United States and Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists and Militants, (acquired for Japanese, German, Italian, Indonesian, Czech and Arabic editions), Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power, Global Depression and Regional Wars: The United States, Latin America and the Middle East, and War Crimes in Gaza and the Zionist Fifth Column in America. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. In 1973-76 he was a member of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin America. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, Le Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. He received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
A report says the Egyptian government has announced the retirement of 70 army generals, weeks after President Mohamed Morsi replaced Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi as defense minister with Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The new defense minister made the announcement, adding that six members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) have also been dismissed, according to a report by the Egyptian daily al-Shorouk.
The six SCAF members will however remain in the armed forces, the paper said.
On August 12, Morsi dismissed Tantawi from his post, canceling a constitutional declaration issued by the military that restricted presidential powers.
Tantawi was Egypt’s defense minister for nearly two decades under former dictator Hosni Mubarak. He headed Egypt’s SCAF, which took power in February 2011 after Egyptians launched a revolution against Mubarak’s regime in January, which eventually brought an end to the dictatorship.
Morsi also ordered the retirement of the military chief of staff, Sami Anan, replacing him with Sedqi Sobhi Sayyid Ahmed.
On August 22, Egyptian lawyer Assem Kandil filed the first legal complaint against several officials in the African state including Tantawi.
“I did so because I accuse them all of killing protesters during the series of bloody protests in Egypt following last year’s uprising along with wasting public money in the state’s spending on the parliamentary election,” the lawyer said.
British officials refrain from giving full backing to Egypt’s $4.8 billion loan request, having previously supported such funding under military rule
London – The United Kingdom has refrained from backing Egypt’s request of a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“We prefer to wait and see the results of the negotiations between Egypt and the IMF,” a UK Foreign Office spokesperson told Ahram Online.
During her recent visit to Cairo, the IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, received a formal request from Egypt for a $4.8 billion loan.
“The UK thinks that this is a good opportunity for dialogue between the two parties,” the spokesperson added.
Asked whether the UK would back the Egyptian request if the IMF board decides in its favour, the spokesperson replied: “We do not have anything to say for the time being.”
The UK’s caution seems to mark a significant change in its attitude towards Egypt’s calls for international assistance to overcome its economic difficulties.
The UK provides 5 per cent of the IMF budget, making it the fourth biggest contributor, with equivalent voting power. It follows the US (18 per cent), Germany (6 per cent) and Japan (6 per cent).
Early this year, the UK government was enthusiastic about an IMF offer of a $3.2 billion loan at a 1.5 per cent interest during Egypt’s period of direct military rule.
A high level UK diplomat then told Ahram Online that the offer was “an amazingly good deal” with “virtually no conditionality.”
UK support at the time followed a meeting of British representatives with the Supreme Council for Armed Force (SCAF), which until July 2012 had veto power on all political decisions.
The diplomat explained that his government felt the deal the IMF put to Egypt was very favourable.
Speaking this week, the Foreign Office spokesperson insisted there was no change in the UK positions on the IMF loan after President Morsi took the reins of power from SCAF.
During her visit to Egypt last Wednesday, Lagarde met Morsi and his prime minister Hesham Kandil, and praised the Egyptian vision for reform.
“We are impressed by the strategy that President Morsi and Prime Minister Kandil have proposed during our meetings today,” she said at a joint press conference with Kandil.
An IMF technical team is due to arrive in Cairo in early September to begin work on arrangements for the mooted loan.
“We prefer foreign borrowing at this stage given the low interest rate of the IMF loan compared to much higher rates when borrowing domestically,” said Kandil, on the matter.
He added that borrowing domestically would crowd out the private sector and the IMF loan would help ease liquidity problems.
The IMF said in a statement it had maintained close dialogue on economic policy with Egyptian authorities since the start of the transition period in February 2011. It said it has also provided considerable technical assistance upon request from the government.
- Egypt requests $4.8bn IMF loan (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- IMF hopes to sink claws into Egypt (morningstaronline.co.uk)
- Egypt to get IMF technical team in September, says Managing Director Christine Lagarde (bikyamasr.com)
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has ordered the release of 572 people detained by the Army since last year’s revolution.
Morsi, who took office last month as Egypt’s first elected civilian president, on Thursday ordered military courts to grant amnesty to the defendants, AFP reported.
The Egyptian president earlier set up a committee to examine the cases of civilians put on trial by the military. The committee says 11,879 Egyptians were detained by the military throughout out the uprising that ousted former dictator Hosni Mubarak. Out of them, 9,714 have since been released.
Human rights activists and bodies have unanimously called for the end of military trials of civilians.
“International law is crystal clear on this: No civilian, regardless of the crime, should be tried by a military court,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said this week.
“Military trials and arrests of civilians by the military have continued, despite the June 30 handover to civilian authority,” the HRW noted.
Sworn in on June 30, Morsi is locked in a power struggle with the powerful Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
Last week, Egyptians thronged the iconic Tahrir Square in Cairo to express solidarity with Morsi over his decree to reconvene parliament.
The parliament, dominated by Muslim Brotherhood lawmakers, was dissolved in line with a ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court, based on a decision by the military, prior to the presidential elections.
Police have surrounded the area around the parliament
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court is expected to decide in a meeting on President Mohamed Morsi’s order to reconvene the dissolved parliament.
Shortly after the announcement of Morsi’s order on Sunday, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) held an emergency meeting, but it did not take any concrete action.
The military authorities are set to convene once again to discuss the consequences of the decree by the newly-elected president.
The Egyptian president ordered the country’s dissolved parliament to resume its legislative work, rejecting the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court’s ruling that said the country’s parliamentary elections about 7 months ago were unconstitutional.
The Egyptian president also called for holding new parliamentary elections within 60 days of the ratification of the new constitution for the North African state.
Protests have been going on since the junta dissolved the country’s parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt’s junta also took control of the state budget and gave itself veto power on a new constitution, making the new president almost powerless through a recent constitutional declaration.
Despite Morsi’s calls for resumption of parliament’s legislative work, police have surrounded the area around the parliament , making the entrance to the parliament building almost impossible for lawmakers.
- Morsi reinstates Egypt’s dissolved lower house; SCAF holds emergency meeting (alethonews.wordpress.com)