The International Cheerleading Squad of the Egyptian Junta
By Oriana P.
Research: Gab Chaag, Marie Browning
Dictators are only secure in their position in as far as they are supported by others. They need to have their power legitimized and recognized by the international community if they want to stay in power.
Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, the leader of the junta in Egypt, can count on a whole string of supporters who are more than willing to turn a blind eye to his brutal oppression of the local population.
John Baird, who was at the time still the minister of foreign affairs in Canada, tweeted from Switzerland:
"Great to have dinner & speak with President el-Sisi last night"
He also stated:
"I personally reaffirm Canada's strong support for the new government of Egypt and its transition to democracy and the inclusion of human rights and rule of law"
He’s by far not the only one who is praising the Egyptian military dictator and spreading lies about the so called democracy in Egypt.
“ El-Sisi gives "a very strong sense of his commitment to human rights." ~ John Kerry
Human rights? Democracy? How about a range of tortures, including electric shocks, dousing with freezing water, use of boiling water and oil, beatings, strappings and rape, and prisoners crammed so tightly in airless, insufferably hot cells that they cannot move, let alone sleep or squat to relieve their bowels. Groups like Human Rights Watch (whose officials have been barred from Egypt) and Amnesty International have documented the purges and abuses. The main target of the Egyptian junta is the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi supporters, whom they call terrorists, but they also go after any political opponents, labour activists, writers, journalists, students, academics, LGBT people and sex workers and they violate the rights of women, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
The main goal is to crush the Muslim Brotherhood, internationally as part of the “common enemy” strategy, but also respecting the peace deal with Israel, and playing along with any agreement between Western nations and Iran to limit its nuclear ambitions.
To this end billions of aid is flying in together with investments from Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Last year Israel offered Al-Sisi $80 million support for his presidential campaign. In a couple of secret meetings Netanyahu promised to convince the US to continue military assistance to Egypt and to convince Obama to meet with Al-Sisi in return for pressuring Abbas to accept the Jewishness of Israel.
A couple of months later John Kerry, the most senior Obama administration official, met with Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi voicing strong support for the post-coup government and promising the continued flow of military aid.
The US have been sending shipments to Egypt with military aid including attack helicopters. Each year US tax payers donate a hefty $1.3 billion to the Egyptian military.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE pledged more than $18 billion in loans, fuel subsidies, and grants, in addition to investments in residential and commercial property. Without the strong financial sustenance that Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait provide to it, Egypt would be clearly unable to pay for Russian weaponry and military hardware imports, estimated by the media to total $3.5 billion last year already, including rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, as well as air defense systems.
Russia’s support for Sisi in every possible way became obvious following Sisi's electoral victory. They have closely aligned interests (particularly on fighting international terrorism), a successful track record of bilateral cooperation on various fronts and a strong personal bond of trust between respective leaders.
The trade and economic cooperation between the two nations is exceeding $4 billion. As Putin told Egypt’s Al-Ahram daily Feb. 8,
“We have established mutually beneficial and effective cooperation in the field of agriculture. Egypt is the major buyer of Russian wheat, Russia provides about 40% of grain consumed in that country; as for us, we import fruits and vegetables.”
According to the president, Russia
“sees promising prospects in the field of high technology, particularly in the areas of nuclear energy, outer space use and sharing of Russia’s GLONASS satellite navigation system.”
Foreign Minister of France, Laurent Fabius, has said he was “confident” that co-operation between the countries would increase “in areas that affect security.”
Jean-Louis Ekra, the president of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), praised Al-Sisi’s “clear resolve to develop economic ties with the rest of Africa” and told him Afreximbank was providing full support to Egyptian companies expanding their trade activities to other parts of the African continent and to the rest of the world. The Bank had recently launched a $500 million Egypt-Africa Trade Promotion Programme, which would support Egypt-Africa trade.
The trade between Canada and Egypt is good for about C$1 billion.
Ambassador Troy Lulashnyk also signed agreements worth $7 billion in the fields of renewable energy and hotel management.
“Canada and Egypt enjoy strong bilateral relations built on a mutual interest in peace, stability and prosperity. Canada will continue to promote collaboration in different sectors of the Egyptian economy,” ~ Troy Lulashnyk during his visit to the Canadian Commercial Chamber in Egypt Monday April 27
The areas of participation and collaboration include education, mining, tourism and training sectors. John Baird, the former Foreign Minister of Canda, visited Egypt on Jan. 15 and announced Canadian initiatives to promote “democracy, security and economic prosperity” in Egypt. The initiatives include Aswan Skills Development Program, commercial cooperation with Suez Canal Authority, cooperation with petroleum, petrochemicals and mining sectors and diplomatic training.
Greek Cyprus, Greece and Egypt engaged in a trilateral summit end of April 2015 to boost security, energy and economic relations. Their main goal is to form a coalition to fight “international terrorism”. The three parties are also working on an option of delivering natural gas from Greek Cyprus via Egypt.
On June 3 and 4, 2015 El-Sisi will visit Berlin, Germany to meet wit Chancellor Angela Merkel. Even though the president or speaker of the German Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, withdrew his participation citing the lack of democratic development, the postponement of scheduled parliamentary elections in Egypt, and the mass arrests and death sentences of members of opposition political parties as reasons Angela Merkel will still meet with El-Sissi because “Egypt is an immensely important player in the Arab world and could help contribute to peace in the region”.
After the "election" El-Sisi met with Kim Darroch, the British National Security Advisor, who congratulated him on his victory and gave him a letter from Prime Minister David Cameron. Darroch said the UK was looking forward to bolstering its strategic partnership with Egypt to confront growing terrorism in the region, namely in war-torn Syria and Iraq. Areas of cooperation will include providing UK training for Egyptian officers on human rights. On the economic front, Darroch affirmed the UK's support for Egypt in talks over a possible loan from the International Monetary Fund. Egypt and the IMF have discussed a $4.8 billion loan to help shore up an economy in tatters since the 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt runs a trade deficit with China, importing $5 billion worth of goods in 2013/14 and exporting $488 million, data from the Central Bank of Egypt showed. China is Egypt's fifth largest trading partner after the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the US and Italy. During Sisi’s four day visit to China in 2014 many agreements were signed and one was raising bilateral ties to a “strategic partnership.” Significant Chinese investment in Egypt is a major component of the new partnership. The focus will be on infrastructure, railways, development of ports and the generation of energy - in particular sustainable energy which is most relevant since China is now a leading manufacturer of solar energy panels and related solar systems.
Despite all the money flowing into Egypt poverty is still rampant and the economy remains in shambles. The money from aid and investments is not reaching the people but instead disappears into the pockets of the regime. When poverty is rampant corruption is rampant. On top of that European companies such as Mercedes are moving their production elsewhere because of economic measures from the government reducing even more job opportunities. Needless to say morale is low.
The military dictatorship in Egypt is made possible and sustained because of its many international sponsors. When criticizing the Egyptian junta it is crucial to also criticize the countries that support the regime. It is after all our governments, the ones we elected and the ones that act in our name, that help oppress the people from Egypt and in that sense we are all responsible.