Robert Fisk: As Mohamed Morsi goes to trial, General Sisi should remember –Egypt is a dangerous place to rule
(The Independent) The erstwhile President appears in court at a tense time even by Egypt’s standards
Being an Egyptian leader, however – and if we get to see the man today, Mr Morsi will surely say he still is the president of Egypt – is a rather dodgy profession. King Farouk got deposed in 1952, but he was allowed to sail away on his royal yacht to Italy. General Mohamed Neguib was put under house arrest by Gamal Abdul Nasser and then Nasser died of a heart attack in 1970, three years after he lost his air force, his armies and the Sinai desert to Israel. Then one of his lesser officers, Anwar Sadat, won back part of the Sinai, visited Jerusalem and was shot dead by one of his own soldiers for making peace with Israel. His air force buddy Hosni Mubarak took over and ended up on trial following the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Gen Mubarak is now at the appeal stage, and today, his successor will also goes on trial. 4 November 2013
Al-Jazeera Journalists Sentenced By Egyptian Court To At Least 7 Years In Prison
The trial has been widely seen as political, part of a fight between the government and the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network, which authorities accuse of bias toward the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi.
(AP via HuffPost) — An Egyptian court convicted three Al-Jazeera journalists and sentenced them to seven years in prison each on terrorism-related charges in a verdict Monday that stunned their families and raised international outrage, with a chorus of voices denouncing the ruling as a blow to freedom of expression.
The verdicts against Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed came after a 5-month trial that Amnesty International described as a “sham.” The group called Monday’s rulings “a dark day for media freedom in Egypt.”
Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is sworn in as Egypt’s new president
(PBS) The 59-year-old leader said he will pursue regional security and stability during his time in office.
“It is time for us to build a future that is more stable and pen a new reality for the future of this nation,” he said, urging Egyptians to work hard in order to develop and grow their rights and freedoms.
Acting president Adly Mansour who was installed after Morsi’s overthrow will return to being the Supreme Constitutional Court’s chief justice.
Sisi elected Egypt president by landslide
Former army chief wins presidential vote with an overwhelming 93 percent, as opposition candidate concedes defeat.
(Al Jazeera) Egypt’s presidential election was to be held over two days but was extended by another day amid concerns over low voter turnout. The poor turnout cast doubts about the level of public support for Sisi, who deposed the country’s first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in a coup last year.
Interim President Adly Mansour, installed by Sisi last July, said turnout was 46 percent, proclaiming it showed “a broad consensus”. A European Union team that observed the election said on Thursday that the vote was conducted “in line with the law,” but regretted the lack of participation of some “stakeholders,” a likely reference to Morsi’s banned Muslim Brotherhood and youth dissident groups.
Egypt’s revolution won’t be undone: the people still have the will
The old regime has morphed into a new form under Sisi, yet our young activists know the rot that lies at its heart
(The Guardian) After the presidential elections there’s a subdued air about Cairo. Flag-sellers wave their leftovers at passing traffic: half-price flags, but nobody stops. In the Tahrir wilderness, unrecognisable now from the swirling, buzzing, gallant place it was three years ago, a man stands alone at the edge of the central island. He is old and silent, and he carries a banner with a picture of the new president and the legend: “Congratulations Egypt!”
Like a sci-fi monster, the blocks of the old regime break and dissolve only to rise again in a new configuration. In the later Mubarak years, the president held the balance and the peace between his family and their capitalist cronies on the one side, and the military on the other. The security establishment served the president and his friends, with no love lost between them and the military. As the government abandoned its responsibilities in education, health and social services, the Muslim Brotherhood picked up the slack. It built up its own web of patronage, never challenging the government enough to scupper the deals over seats in parliament and opportunities to make money.
Now the building blocks are morphing into a new arrangement. The military have been voted into the presidential palace. They are trying to build bridges with the security establishment; they need them to quell dissent. They’ve made themselves the channel through which Gulf money will come into the country, and they’ll use it to establish a network of business cronies. The Brotherhood is out in the cold, ousted last July and declared a terrorist organisation, but it would probably be allowed back in if it settled for its old, compromised opposition role.
Increased Instability Predicted for Egypt
(IPS) – International human rights groups have strongly denounced Monday’s sentencing by an Egyptian court of 529 Islamists to death for a riot in which one policeman was killed.
Egypt specialists here say the sentences, which are widely seen as the latest in a series of steps taken by the authorities to crush the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as other dissident forces opposed to the military-backed government, are certain to fuel increased radicalisation in the Arab world’s most populous nation.
What all this repression creates is a very deep well of anger,” said Michelle Dunne, an Egypt specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and co-chair of the Working Group on Egypt, a coalition of neo-conservative and liberal internationalist Middle East analysts who have informally advised the administration of President Barack Obama since the dawn of the Arab spring in late 2010.
“Where these kinds of actions are taking Egypt is very worrisome. …We now have an ally that might be headed toward serious and persistent instability,” according to Dunne, who noted that another court sentenced a group of 17 university students for rioting just a few days ago. Although no one was killed or seriously injured in that incident, each of the students received 14 years in prison. …
Saudi Arabia, with which Obama hopes to patch up relations badly strained by his failure both to support former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the outset of the Arab Spring and to intervene more aggressively on the side of rebels in Syria when he visits Riyadh later this week, has strongly backed the military’s crackdown against the Brotherhood and are expected to press their guest to do likewise.
The Saudis have not only provided billions of dollars in budgetary support for the regime; they have also offered to make up for any weapons withheld by Washington by buying comparable systems from other arms suppliers, including Russia, on Egypt’s behalf.
“The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have a basic disagreement about what’s going on in Egypt,” according to Dunne. “The Saudis would say whatever heavy-handed measures the authorities are taking is necessary to defeat terrorism. Most U.S. officials says these tactics are causing terrorism and potentially driving Egypt toward persistent instability.”
Muslim Brotherhood Trial: Egypt Court Sentences 529 Morsi Supporters To Death
(Reuters) – An Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death on Monday on charges including murder, a defence lawyer said, in a sharp escalation of a crackdown on the movement.
Most were arrested during clashes which erupted in the southern province of Minya after the forced dispersal of two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo on August 14.
“The court has decided to sentence to death 529 defendants, and 16 were acquitted,” lawyer Ahmed al-Sharif told Reuters. The ruling can be appealed.
The charges against the group, on trial in Minya since Saturday, include violence, inciting murder, storming a police station, attacking persons and damaging public and private property.
Only 123 of the defendants were present. The rest were either released, out on bail or on the run.
Egypt Gets Muscular Over Nile Dam
(IPS) – When Egypt’s then-president Mohamed Morsi said in June 2013 that “all options” including military intervention, were on the table if Ethiopia continued to develop dams on the Nile River, many dismissed it as posturing. But experts claim Cairo is deadly serious about defending its historic water allotment, and if Ethiopia proceeds with construction of what is set to become Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam, a military strike is not out of the question.
Relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have soured since Ethiopia began construction on the 4.2 billion dollar Grand Renaissance Dam in 2011.
Egypt fears the new dam, slated to begin operation in 2017, will reduce the downstream flow of the Nile, which 85 million Egyptians rely on for almost all of their water needs. Officials in the Ministry of Irrigation claim Egypt will lose 20 to 30 percent of its share of Nile water and nearly a third of the electricity generated by its Aswan High Dam.
Vladimir Putin pre-empts presidency bid by Egypt’s military chief
Russian leader backs Abdel Fatah al-Sisi before candidacy announced as Moscow rattles US Middle East alliances
(The Guardian) Without naming the United States, the Kremlin used Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s visit to Russia to criticise what it regards as American interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Russia’s ties with the US have been badly strained by disputes ranging from Syria’s civil war, to missile defence plans in Europe, to Moscow’s human rights record.
Putin’s public endorsement of Sisi is unlikely to cause a stir in Egypt, where an announcement by the field marshal that he is running in the election is a matter of when, not if.
“I know that you have made a decision to run for president,” Putin said at the start of his meeting with Sisi. “That’s a very responsible decision: to undertake such a mission for the fate of the Egyptian people. On my own part, and on behalf of the Russian people, I wish you success.”
Minister and Consoler: The Man Who Wants to Fix Egyptian Society
(Spiegel) Mohammed el-Mahdi is Egypt’s new minister for reconciliation. He’s fighting to create a new country, even as society fragments. It’s an uphill task in a land where the military is expanding its power and younger generations are digging their heels in for a fight.
El-Mahdi is Egypt’s minister for reconciliation. Earlier, he served as a justice on Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court. He was also a judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for four years and had a stint as a legal advisor at the United Nations in Geneva. His job today is to bring peace to Egypt, a country still teetering on the brink.
The world doesn’t have many government officials with El-Mahdi’s job title, but a reconciliation minister is a position Egypt truly does need. As an equitable man with a liberal face to the world, he’s invaluable to the government in Cairo. He knows it, too. If he thinks the government is using him, he doesn’t let on. After all, he also has his own causes and goals. He wants to bring various conflicting — and often hate-filled — segments of society back together and to reconcile generations that have become divided.
OP-ED: Egypt’s Revolution Teeters as Sisi Seeks the Presidency
(IPS) – Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is set to run for president and is expected to win handily. The ruling junta and the interim government have taken several steps to make this happen.
Interim President Adly Mansour recently promoted Sisi to Field Marshal, the highest rank in the Egyptian military, despite his lack of military combat. Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) followed Mansour’s action by giving the newly minted Field Marshal a “mandate” to run for president in response to the “desire of the masses.” Sisi’s response: It was his “duty” and an “obligation” to do so.
Sisi’s high stakes political game comes barely 18 months after former President Morsi appointed him minister of defence and despite his previous statements that the military should shun politics and return to the barracks. While he was publicly declaring allegiance to Morsi and civilian control, he proceeded to conspire against the freely elected leadership and torpedo civilian rule.
Once Sisi “retires” from the military and the cabinet, he would be free to seek the presidency as a “civilian” person. He would then present himself to the Egyptian masses as the “Savior” and “Indispensable Man”—much like other military-turned-civilian dictators who preceded him. He seems to forget that shedding the military uniform and donning a business suit just doesn’t cut it anymore. The era of military dictatorships has passed.
Twenty-nine dead in clashes on anniversary of Egypt uprising
(Reuters) – Twenty-nine people were killed during anti-government marches on Saturday while thousands rallied in support of the army-led authorities, underlining Egypt’s volatile political fissures three years after the fall of autocrat President Hosni Mubarak. … But the growing violence has not dented the popularity of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose ouster of Islamist Mohamed Mursi, Egypt’s first freely-elected president, plunged the country into turmoil. Instead of commemorating Mubarak’s overthrow, tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir to pledge their support for Sisi in an event stage-managed by the state.
Egypt poll sparks protests and celebrations
Pro-military and anti-coup protesters rally in Cairo and other cities during second day of voting on new referendum.
Military Launches a Democratic Missile
(IPS) – As Egyptians head for a referendum Tuesday and Wednesday this week, the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was swept into government in the last election, hangs in the balance.
The ruling military junta has been targeting the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) continuously since it seized power last year. Following a Dec. 23 suicide attack which targeted a police station in the city of Mansoura north of Cairo, in which 16 people were killed and dozens wounded, the Egyptian government formally designated the MB a terrorist organisation.
The government accused it of carrying out the suicide attack even though a Sinai-based militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility.