Fear Grips Egypt
by Stephen Lendman
There’s good reason to worry. Egypt’s a virtual war zone. No end of confrontations loom. Junta officials say crackdowns will continue. Live fire’s officially authorized.
Pro-Morsi supporters demand he be reinstated. They’re defiant. They promise daily protests. EU officials said they’ll review relations with Egypt.
Expect little change ahead. Rhetoric substitutes for policy. Obama promises business as usual. He refuses to call a coup, a coup. John Kerry called it restoring democracy.
White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters “we’re going to encourage (interim government officials to keep) promises they made.”
“So when I say ‘hold them accountable,’ I mean we’re going to remind them that they made promise(s) and encourage them to keep (them).”
In other words, Obama’s position on accountability is none at all. He stopped short of denouncing mass slaughter. He’s done nothing to hold junta leaders responsible. He’s complicit with crimes against humanity. US military aid facilitates it.
Conditions remain highly volatile. They’re highly charged. Interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy warned against internationalizing the conflict. He’s not worried about losing foreign aid. He doesn’t want “to replace one friend with another.”
“The relation between Egypt and the US has been there for a long time,” he added. “It has been through ups and downs in the past. We hope things will go back to normal promptly.”
Aid Washington supplies is safe. Saudi Arabia promised billions more. So did UAE leaders. Both countries oppose pro-Morsi loyalists.
They want Mubarakism restored. They want unchallenged hardline rule. They want no Arab Spring domestically. They tolerate no dissent. Their human rights records are deplorable.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says journalists in Egypt are targeted. It’s not new. They’re extremely vulnerable now. On August 14, British cameraman Mick Deane was shot to death. He was covering clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi supporters.
Dubai-based weekly Xpress journalist Habiba Ahmed Abd Al-Aziz was killed. Security force sniper fire shot her in the head.
Many Egyptian journalists and photographers were injured. They were covering protest clashes. On August 14, RSF said three journalists were killed. Many others were injured, detained or threatened.
An AFP photographer was prevented from entering Nahda Square. A policeman pointed his automatic rifle at him. He ordered him to go back. Refusal risked being shot.
On August 14, a three Russian Rossiya 24 news crew was attacked. They just arrived in Cairo. Unidentified individuals stopped their vehicle. They took their equipment, laptops and money.
The previous day an Egyptian crew was targeted. At the time, they were conducting an interview. Their camera was smashed. They were lucky to remain unharmed.
Reporting from Egypt risks life and limb. Violence continues daily.
RSF’s very concerned about conditions. It issued a statement, saying:
“News providers must be able to cover developments without any threat to their physical safety.”
“We urge the Egyptian authorities and protest leaders to adopt whatever measures are necessary to protect journalists.”
Muslim Brotherhood (MB) officials planned multiple Sunday marches. Russia Today reported them called off for security reasons.
They’re concerned about army snipers on rooftops along planned routes. They went ahead anyway.
On Saturday, interim Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi pointed fingers the wrong way, saying:
“There will be no reconciliation with those whose hands have been stained with blood and who turned weapons against the state and its institutions.”
Egyptian state media accused MB officials of having links with Al Qaeda. It blamed Western media for biased coverage, saying:
“Egypt is feeling severe bitterness towards some Western media coverage that is biased toward the Muslim Brotherhood.”
They ignore “violence and terrorist acts perpetrated by this group in the form of intimidation operations and terrorizing citizens.”
“Let alone the killing of innocent people and setting churches and public and private property on fire, along with storming police stations and blocking roads and all other forms of thuggery and sabotage.”
On August 17, The New York Times headlined “How American Hopes for a Deal in Egypt Were Undercut.”
European diplomat said “indications” suggested authorities would free two imprisoned opposition leaders.
Muslim Brotherhood officials agreed to reduce “protest camps by about half.” Nothing happened. No one was released.
Americans heightened pressure. On August 6, Senators John McCain (R. AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R. SC) met with Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) head General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi and interim Prime Minister Hazem Al Beblawi.
They urged releasing the prisoners. “But the Egyptians brushed them off,” said The Times.
“You could tell people were itching for a fight,” said Graham. “The prime minister was a disaster. He kept preaching to me: ‘You can’t negotiate with these people. They’ve got to get out of the streets and respect the rule of law.”
Graham responded, saying: ‘Mr. Prime Minister, it’s pretty hard for you to lecture anyone on the rule of law. How many votes did you get? Oh, yeah, you didn’t have an election.’ “
“General Sisi, Mr. Graham said, seemed ‘a little bit intoxicated by power.’ “
Both senators left convinced a violent showdown loomed.
“The next morning, the government issued a statement declaring that diplomatic efforts had been exhausted and blaming the Islamists for any casualties from the coming crackdown,” said The Times.
“A week later, Egyptian forces opened a ferocious assault that so far has killed more than 1,000 protesters.”
US efforts failed. Generals “calculat(e)” they won’t “pay a significant cost.” Obama bolstered their belief. Military aid continues. His criticism is rhetorical only.
US/Egyptian relations remain largely unchanged. Other Western governments took “a wait-and-see approach. Israel maintains close ties to Sisi.
Western diplomats believe Israel reassures Egypt “not to worry about American threats to cut off aid.”
Israeli officials deny doing so. At the same time, they acknowledge urging Washington to protect it.
Senator Rand Paul (R. KY) proposed an amendment halting military aid. AIPAC responded harshly.
It warned doing so “could increase instability in Egypt, undermine important US interests, and negatively impact our Israeli ally.”
On July 26, Mohamed ElBaradei threatened to resign. John Kerry talked him out of it. He ended up doing it anyway.
He did it for self-serving reasons. He supported harsh crackdowns. He called for doing so “within the limits of the law.” He was part of the Morsi-toppling coup plan. He’s a Nobel Peace Prize honoree. Peace advocates should demand he give it back.
He cynically pretends to be democratic. He hopes one day to be Egypt’s president. On Sunday, he left Cairo. He’s in Vienna. He declined comment. He exited the line of fire. Perhaps he feared for his safety.
Vienna is IAEA headquarters. From 1997 – 2009, ElBaradei headed the organization. He was interim Egyptian vice president. It was short-lived. He served from July 14 – August 14.
According to The Times, “General Sisi never trusted” him. At the same time, “a small core of military officers close to (him) saw a chance to finally rid Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
With no threat of Western recrimination, “many analysts argue that the hard-liners could only feel emboldened.” They’ve taken full advantage.
They know they can do what they please with impunity. They prefer keeping it out of headlines. They control Egyptian state and private media. They have no say on what’s reported abroad.
So far it’s been harshly critical. Western news organizations eventually lose interest. They move on to other issues. Doing so will give junta leaders more leverage. Expect them to take full advantage. They’ll do so to crush opposition.
How pro-Morsi supporters respond remains to be seen. They’re committed. They’re determined. They’re defiant. Many would rather die than accept Mubarakism 2.0.
The Times said Deputy Secretary of State William Burns “left Cairo with a sense of foreboding. Western diplomats in Cairo said that, despite their public statements at the time to the contrary, it was then that they, too, gave up hope.”
Days earlier, Interior Ministry officials said police would “choke off” sit-ins, cut off food and water, and “gradually escalat(e) nonlethal force.”
They did much more. State-sponsored violence proves it. So does longstanding repression. It doesn’t surprise. Expect no letup ahead.
Junta leaders don’t compromise. They didn’t oust Morsi to do so. According to an unnamed Pentagon official:
“The million-dollar question now is where is the threshold of violence for cutting ties?” How many deaths are required to get Washington’s attention?
At issue isn’t how many. It’s not for how long? It’s controlling the message. It’s allying with regional despots supporting US interests.
It’s advancing America’s imperium. It’s wanting unchallenged global dominance. It’s business as usual. It’s no other way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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