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Kiriakou writes: "We Americans are going to have to make a decision. Either we want to be that beacon of hope on human rights that we're always bragging we are, or we don't. We can't be both."

The courtroom and soundproof dock at the Rabaa mass trial. (photo: Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)
The courtroom and soundproof dock at the Rabaa mass trial. (photo: Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)


Egypt Is a Powder Keg

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

11 September 18

 

n Egyptian court this week sentenced 75 members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to death for participating in a protest against military efforts to overthrow the democratically elected government of MB member and Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi in 2013. The 75 were charged en masse with murder, incitement to break the law, membership in a banned group, and participating in an illegal gathering. Most of those killed in the protest were other Muslim Brotherhood members, and violence was initiated by the military and police. Amnesty International called the trial and sentencing “a grotesque parody of justice.”

Morsi was a minor politician and MB member in 2012 when the group’s preferred candidate for president was stricken from the ballot on a technicality. He reluctantly took over leadership of the MB and stood as the group’s candidate for president. Just three years earlier, Egyptians had overthrown the corrupt rule of Hosni Mubarak, and popular demonstrations led to what ended up being free and fair elections. Many Egyptians were tired of corruption, inflation, poverty, and the military’s heavy hand. Morsi won a convincing victory on June 30, 2012.

One of Morsi’s first visitors after his election was Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry said that he could work with Morsi and that the US-Egypt relationship would remain unchanged. (Indeed, Morsi committed to maintaining the bilateral economic and military relationship and to the status quo on relations with Israel.) That’s wasn’t good enough for Egypt’s generals, though, and the country quickly entered into a constitutional crisis.

On June 30, just one year after he became president, the military demanded that Morsi resign. His supporters began a pro-Morsi sit-in in Cairo’s Rabaa Square on that same day. Morsi refused to resign, and on July 1 the military issued a 48-hour ultimatum – resign or be overthrown. Again Morsi refused. On July 2, Morsi announced a “reconciliation plan” for the country. But 24 hours later, on July 3, 2013, he was overthrown by General Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, arrested, and charged with a wide variety of crimes, including murder, espionage, and “insulting the judiciary.” He was sentenced to death, but the sentence was overturned on appeal. Morsi is awaiting retrial, but has been in prison since his overthrow.

In the meantime, Sisi didn’t stop with just Morsi’s overthrow. His police and military attacked pro-Morsi demonstrators in Rabaa Square and killed 871 people, according to Human Rights Watch. Almost every person killed was a Morsi supporter. But that didn’t prevent the new military government from charging 739 Morsi supporters with major crimes coming out of the sit-in’s breakup. In the end, 75 people were sentenced to death, including MB leader Essam el-Errian, parliamentarian Muhammad el-Beltagy, and Morsi’s Minister of Youth Osama Yassin; MB Supreme Leader Muhammad Badie and 46 others received sentences of life without parole; 374 defendants received 15 years; Morsi’s son Osama and 22 others received 10 years; and 215 defendants, including a photojournalist working for a British outlet and arrested for doing his job, were sentenced to five years.

Egyptian law says that no criminal defendant can be held in custody awaiting trial for more than 24 months. All of the Rabaa defendants had been held for 62 months with no recourse. Furthermore, the entire process was corrupt because the defendants were not allowed to present evidence (much of which was on video from news networks) showing that none of them had killed anybody; it was the police and military doing the killing.

The entire event cries for Egypt to abolish the death penalty. It won’t do that, of course, even though it is clear that the punishment is used for political reasons, and especially to crush the MB.

Human Rights Watch probably said it best in its 2017 report on Egypt entitled “We Do Unreasonable Things Here: Torture and National Security in Sisi’s Egypt”: “Sisi’s pursuit of political stability at any cost ... is perpetuating the same abuses that fueled the 2011 uprising.”

Egypt is a powder keg. And the fault lies partly with Washington. It was Barack Obama who looked the other way when Egypt went fascist with Sisi’s coup. It was Donald Trump who continued this failed policy. And people are dying because of it, whether in demonstrations attacked by the police and military or under the guise of “justice” on the Egyptian gallows.

We Americans are going to have to make a decision. Either we want to be that beacon of hope on human rights that we’re always bragging we are, or we don’t. We can’t be both. We can’t be in bed with murderous fascists and dictators because they buy our weapons or kowtow to our foreign policy and then tell the press and the United Nations how concerned we are about human rights. It’s a lie that just about everybody around the world can see through. If we’re going to right US foreign policy, we should start with Egypt and Sisi. We should go on record that these trials and sentences are unacceptable. We should end aid and military sales to Egypt until the government there cleans up its act. And there should be no military sales at all until Egypt can prove that it respects the human rights of all its citizens.

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John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act – a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration's torture program.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.


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+32 # mashiguo 2018-09-11 12:14
"Either we want to be that beacon of hope on human rights that we’re always bragging we are, or we don’t. We can’t be both. We can’t be in bed with murderous fascists...and then tell the press and the United Nations how concerned we are about human rights. It’s a lie that just about everybody around the world can see through."

Two facts are missed in this summation:

1) Everybody around the world can see through US lies, but Americans cannot see through them. The educational system is so degenerate, impotent and structurally incompetent that American citizens are mythologically stupid. That includes everyone on all sides of every argument. Russia Russia Russia is just as deplorable as anything else.

2) Maybe someone should remember the "public/private " dichotomy. Privately we are the best thing since before sliced bread. Publicly US is a tornado of sewage with nothing to offer but carnage, poverty and death to offer the rest of the world. The payback is inevitable. I pity the younger generation that will have to confront it.
 
 
+7 # boredlion 2018-09-11 15:50
Well said.
And perhaps a third point could be added, a propos of Kiriakou's exhortation, "If we are going to right US foreign policy,, we should start with Egypt and Sisi."
- 3) And then, there's Israel and Netanyahu . . .
 
 
0 # mashiguo 2018-09-13 08:38
... and then there's the nimrod neocon circle jerk that has taken over DC.

Never mind. Before they finishing pulling off their coup Abrupt Climate Change will have DC and all its wonderful bunkers under water.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of nimrods.
 
 
0 # Benign Observer 2018-09-13 11:24
And Salman in Saudi Arabia. According to Seymour Hersh Trump has a huge commitment from Salman to help finance a big infrastructure jobs program Trump has planned for 2019, which he hopes will propel him to re-election -- and put him in debt to one of the worst world leaders imaginable.
 
 
+4 # margpark 2018-09-11 14:28
The ongoing situation in the White House can easily lead to a military take over in this country. Subverting the President's worse thoughts and wishes is something to be thankful for in the short run. But it certainly can lead to a take over "For the good of the country."
 
 
+3 # elizabethblock 2018-09-11 15:49
"We Americans are going to have to make a decision. Either we want to be that beacon of hope on human rights that we’re always bragging we are, or we don’t. We can’t be both. We can’t be in bed with murderous fascists and dictators because they buy our weapons or kowtow to our foreign policy and then tell the press and the United Nations how concerned we are about human rights."

I'm afraid that decision was made a long time ago.

And Egypt is not the first, and will not be the last, country that the American government regarded as stable, when it was merely metastable - like a stone that has rolled halfway down a hill, waiting to be dislodged by a gust of wind. Remember Iran? And Nicaragua under Somoza, of whom FDR said that he may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch.

Of course we've never before had a president who didn't at least pretend to be pro-democracy.
 
 
+1 # giraffee23 2018-09-11 16:55
Only interest US govt has is $$ and taxing poor and deporting all non-white peoples. And if US citizens think our government will help a Muslim country which we have an oil deal with-- haha
Besides we (the 99%) are or will get whipped because the $$ is and will continue to go to the 99%.

Only (maybe chance) we have of maintaining a democracy or freedom is to VOTE until we have all new government people in office AND overturn Citizen's United ++++ plus to much more we've allowed to get corrupted.

VOTE because your freedom depends on your vote
 
 
0 # draypoker 2018-09-11 17:57
The people to blame for events in Egypt are not the Americans but the Egyptian military, who have never favoured democracy, especially when elections result in someone they haven't supplied.
 
 
0 # futhark 2018-09-11 18:35
The revered founders of the American republic set forth a vision of liberty and justice never heretofore realized in the world, hoping to secure for themselves the rights of private property, freedom of speech, the press, and religion, and a mechanism for governing that would allow all of the advantages they wished to enjoy for perpetuity. This vision was the basis of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. However, it seems they never took seriously extending these same advantages universally, that is to women, to slaves, and to the native inhabitants of the continent. But the language of the documents held out the hope of such extensions, and decade by decade many of them have been realized.

At the same time, the Founders and there successors desired to secure monetary income from private enterprise, which was very often blind to its effects on those not born to privilege. The dichotomy of visions extends to this day and largely divides the nation politically between those who favor extending protections that would make the quality of life enhancements more universal ("progressives" ) and those who consider the expense of such extensions may infringe on the prosperity of the already privileged few ("conservatives").

1 Timothy 6:10: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
 
 
+3 # Texas Aggie 2018-09-11 19:45
Seem to recall that prior to being removed, Morsi did some serious Constitutional changes that gave him almost dictatorial power. While that doesn't excuse or justify the military's response, it does suggest that Morsi wasn't a whole lot better than the military is now, so not much is lost. Egypt just went from bad to slightly worse.
 
 
+2 # Bruce-Man-Do 2018-09-12 07:09
Oh, yeah, Mashiguo, you're so sadly right about it all! But Russia, Russia, Russia is likely also the main reason Obama (a president who supposedly cared about human rights, unlike the self-centered bozo in the White House, now, who only cares about himself) didn't raise much objection to the fascist coup. That is, Egypt could so easily AGAIN turn towards the Russians for military aid and alliance.
 

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