US Arms Egyptian Dictatorship; Celebrates with a YouTube Video
August 4, 2015 Glenn Greenwald / The Intercept & US State Department Statement
The Egyptian regime run by the despotic General Abdelfattah al-Sisi is one of the world's most brutal and repressive. Last year, Human Rights Watch documented that that Egyptian "security forces have carried out mass arrests and torture that harken back to the darkest days of former President Hosni Mubarak's rule." Despite that repression, the Obama administration has lavished the regime with aid, money and weapons, just as the US government did for decades in order to prop up Hosni Mubarak.
US Government Celebrates Its Arming of the Egyptian Regime With a YouTube Video Glenn Greenwald / The Intercept
(August 3 2015) -- The Egyptian regime run by the despotic General Abdelfattah al-Sisi is one of the world's most brutal and repressive. Last year, Human Rights Watch documented that that Egyptian "security forces have carried out mass arrests and torture that harken back to the darkest days of former President Hosni Mubarak's rule."
Just two months ago, the group warned that the abuses have "escalated," and that Sisi, "governing by decree in the absence of an elected parliament, ha[s] provided near total impunity for security force abuses and issued a raft of laws that severely curtailed civil and political rights, effectively erasing the human rights gains of the 2011 uprising that ousted the longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak."
Despite that repression -- or, more accurately, because of it -- the Obama administration has lavished the regime with aid, money and weapons, just as the US government did for decades in order to prop up Hosni Mubarak. When Sisi took power in a coup, not only did the US government support him but it praised him for restoring "democracy."
Since then, the US has repeatedly sent arms and money to the regime as its abuses became more severe. As the New York Times delicately put it yesterday, "American officials . . . signaled that they would not let their concerns with human rights stand in the way of increased security cooperation with Egypt."
None of that is new: A staple of US foreign policy has long been to support heinous regimes as long as they carry out US dictates, all in order to keep domestic populations in check and prevent their views and beliefs (which are often averse to the US) from having any effect on the actions of their own government.
Just today, the American and Egyptian governments jointly issued a lengthy statement on a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, which it said was "based on the shared belief that it is necessary to deepen the Egypt-US bilateral relationship to advance our shared interest after almost four decades of close partnership and cooperation." [See statement below – EAW.]
While Kerry suggested in the meeting that severe repression may not be strategically shrewd, the official statement did not even reference, let alone condemn, the regime's human rights abuses: credit for not pretending to care, I suppose.
[The US media pretended to be on the side of Tahir Square democracy protesters despite decades of support from the American government for Mubarak. Recall that in 2009 Hillary Clinton pronounced: "I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family."
A WikiLeaks cable, anticipating the first meeting between Obama and Mubarak in 2009, emphasized that "the Administration wants to restore the sense of warmth that has traditionally characterized the US-Egyptian partnership" and that "the Egyptians want the visit to demonstrate that Egypt remains America's 'indispensible [sic] Arab ally.'"
The cable noted that "[intelligence] Chief Omar Soliman and Interior Minister al-Adly keep the domestic beasts at bay, and Mubarak is not one to lose sleep over their tactics."]
The Leader of the Free World's long and clear history of lavishing the world's most repressive regimes with money and weapons is usually carried out with a bit of stealth, so that its inspiring, self-flattering rhetoric about Supporting Freedom and Democracy -- used to justify invasions and other forms of imperial domination -- will be credible to its domestic media and population (even if to nobody else in the world). But this week, the US government not only proudly touted its sending of weapons to the Cairo regime, but published a video celebrating it.
The official Twitter account of the US Embassy in Cairo on Friday actually posted this:
US Embassy Cairo
✔ @USEmbassyCairo The US delivered 8 new F16s to the Egy Air Force this week - watch them fly over Cairo! #تحيا_مصر
4:55 PM - 31 Jul 2015 (UTC)
The Arabic part of the tweet reads "Long Live Egypt"; as the NYT noted yesterday, that is "repeating a phrase that is known here primarily as the slogan from the presidential campaign of" Gen. Sisi.
It's creepy enough that worship of military weaponry is now centrally integrated into America's most sacred collective religious ritual: sporting events. But to strut around with videos boasting of this display of force by a tyrannical regime over its own people -- courtesy of the US government -- is just wretched.
Not only the US but also its closest Western allies are supplying Sisi with weapons. Just last week, the U.K. "quietly resumed multimillion-pound arms deals with" that government, including "arms sales to Egypt's autocratic regime worth 48.8 million pounds ($76.3 million)," while in February "French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Egyptian capital Cairo . . . to ink a deal for the sale of military hardware worth up to $6 billion."
These are the very same countries, of course, which endlessly claim to find human rights violations to be so deeply disturbing (when carried out by the governments that don't obey them) that they have to fight wars to end them.
Still, explicitly celebrating videos of a tyrant parading his US-supplied military might over the citizens whom he's oppressing: that has to be a new low. It doesn't even make sense from the perspective of the typical US strategy of pretending to pressure its tyrannical allies to improve on the human rights front.
Something like this is so extreme, so blatant, that it might even run the risk of having US journalists who constantly believe that the US government is opposed to repression and autocracy (in the context of non-compliant countries such as Iran, Russia, Libya, China and Venezuela) to ponder for a second or two whether that's actually true or whether it's pure propaganda.
WASHINGTON, DC (August 2, 2015) -- Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry hosted United States Secretary of State John Kerry in Cairo on August 2, 2015 for the inaugural round of the Egypt-US Strategic Dialogue at the ministerial level, based on the shared belief that it is necessary to deepen the Egypt-US bilateral relationship to advance our shared interest after almost four decades of close partnership and cooperation.
This belief reflects the importance of the two countries' regional and international roles and the need to develop collective solutions to a wide range of complex issues.
The two sides agreed to continue close cooperation to improve their mutual security, to combat terrorism and extremism, and to work together to delegitimize terrorist narratives. They discussed the status of Egypt's Road Map and the importance of efforts to promote democracy and human rights in all fields, including in the fight against terrorism.
The US welcomed Egypt's participation in the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, and reiterated its unwavering support for Egypt in its fight against terrorism.
The two Ministers underlined the importance of working together to address the current conflicts in the Middle East region, especially in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
Moreover, the two sides emphasized the importance of attaining a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement between Israelis and Palestinians, which fulfills the vision of the two-state solution, in accordance with the agreed principles and international resolutions.
They also discussed other regional developments, and expressed the importance of the full implementation of JCPOA between Iran and the EU3+3 to enhance regional security and stability.
Commensurate with their commitment to further the strategic ties between the two countries, both sides reviewed ongoing developments in their relations at the bilateral level. The two Ministers discussed the prospects of enhancing the relations in various fields, including military cooperation and people-to-people relations, as well as increasing cooperation in cultural and educational domains.
The two delegations reaffirmed their shared commitment to broaden and deepen bilateral economic and commercial cooperation. They acknowledged the importance of expanded trade and investment ties as the key to a sustainable, balanced and enduring partnership, including through reinforcing cooperation in the areas of information technology and energy, and deepening cooperation to create jobs, enhance education, and promote healthcare.
The United States congratulated the Government of Egypt on the upcoming opening of the Suez Canal. Both governments welcomed the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund's announcement of its first USD $20 million investment.
Ministers agreed to hold Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Talks, resume the Bilateral Science and Technology Agreement and renew the high-level Working Group on Information and Communication Technology.
The two sides renewed their commitment to the strategic relationship and resolved to take practical and specific steps to consolidate it. They further stressed that a long-term and strong Egypt-US partnership, anchored in the common goals of their strategic ties, is vital for the peace, stability and prosperity of the region. The two sides agreed to hold the next round of the Strategic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. in 2016.
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