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The Muslim Brotherhood is caught in Trump’s twilight zone

January 20, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Published in:

muslim-brotherhood-mb-office-hq-headquartersHeadquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt [File photo]

Headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt [File photo]

yvonne-ridley-5

Yvonne Ridley

@yvonneridley

 

January 20, 2017 at 12:56 pm

The news today is that the United States of America has a new President in Donald Trump. Beyond that, the world of fact and fantasy has collided to create a fake news landscape in which it is going to become increasingly difficult to separate the truth from lies.

It is a twilight zone in which the very worst dirty tricks are currently being employed. Trump has already blamed gullible US intelligence agencies for falling for a Russian dossier compiled by an ex-British spy, in which lurid allegations were made against him.

Although he dismissed the dossier angrily as fake news, it seems that Trump and his administration are selective when it comes to which fake news to believe and which to condemn out of hand. The new Washington set-up is already, for example, being duped into believing fake news about the Muslim Brotherhood. What else can we conclude when we hear that one of the first things he is preparing to do in the White House is to ban the Muslim Brotherhood in the US by declaring it to be a “terrorist organisation”?

The bill to this effect — the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2015-16 — has been drafted by right-wing Republican Senator Ted Cruz. It identifies the Brotherhood and three of its offshoots, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), as “terrorist” groups.

Any reasonable person with even a modicum of understanding of the Muslim world knows that this is poppycock. Nevertheless, there are attempts to lump the Brotherhood in the same category as the Taliban, Al-Qaida and Daesh. Those who can differentiate between the ideologies of the latter three will know that from Kandahar to Raqqa, the Brotherhood is regarded as virtually heretical and hence is reviled by their supporters.

There is no doubt that as far as the pro-Israel lobby is concerned, the Brotherhood’s branch in Palestine — the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) – is the Devil’s spawn. This has to be regarded in context, though, because the Zionist lobbyists despise anyone and everyone who gives active support to the Palestinian cause, from families boycotting Israeli produce on the supermarket shelves to peaceful activists on the front line resisting Israeli teargas and bullets to protect olive trees in the occupied West Bank.

When the good people of Palestine held democratic elections and swept Hamas to power in 2006, the movement’s victory so angered the US administration that it funded, along with Israel, an attempted coup by a faction within Fatah; it failed, but the subsequent Israeli-led siege of Gaza has been in place ever since, with Washington’s full approval. America’s response to the movement’s electoral victory sent a warning shot across the region, for the benefit of the dictators and despots clinging to power, that the rest of the Arab world beyond Palestine might also want a taste of freedom and democracy.

It remains to be seen if Trump recognises the dossiers and briefings on the Muslim Brotherhood as fake, or if he will collude with the same Arab dictators and tyrants who have their own agenda as well as a long-distance relationship with the truth, along with their compliant media organisations.

Earlier this month, the Muslim Brotherhood took the unusual step of issuing an official statement decrying the fake news created to demonise the movement. This came after some sections of the media invented a story saying that the remnants of the Brotherhood in Egypt had announced “the militarisation of its movement against the military coup and that it has decided to resort to violence.”

“The General Office of the Muslim Brotherhood,” the group explained, “and all the departments affiliated with it, would like to stress that the group’s position as announced in February 2014, and which has been endorsed by the new Shura Council that was elected in the middle of this past December, of adhering to the revolutionary path in order to break the coup does not mean ‘militarising the revolution’ or heading toward violence.”

This simply means that the Brotherhood “is endeavouring to possess the tools necessary for achieving victory, in their all-encompassing definitions, based on civil resistance that peoples around the world legitimately resort to and that is supported by all the resolutions of international legitimacy in order to get rid of military dictatorship and win their freedom and dignity. This is a path that free nations cannot afford to do without in their endeavour to protect their gains and inflict defeat on the real terrorism that is being nurtured by the despotism of repressive regimes.”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s commitment to bringing about change in such a troubled region as the Middle East through non-violent means should be commended and welcomed by any and all reasonable people, including those in Washington. However, it seems that the explicit statement is already being ignored by Trump’s advisors. Somebody needs to tell the new US president that his people are lying to him about the threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood, both in America and overseas.

When dictatorships and rogue states that do not encourage freedom of speech, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Russia, have outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood it should be obvious that this indicates that the movement stands for the sort of values despised by such regimes and trumpeted — no pun intended — by the US and other Western states.

After the Muslim Brotherhood was swept into power in Egypt and Mohamed Morsi become its first democratically-elected leader it sent shock waves throughout the region. If freedom and democracy could come to Egypt, it was believed, then it could happen anywhere; that is why unelected regional heads of state set about spending billions of petrodollars to destabilise the Arab Spring and undermine the fledgling Morsi government in Cairo.

The result is that Egypt’s only democratically-elected president is now languishing in a Cairo hell-hole of a prison under sentence of death. Over the past three and a half years he has been joined by thousands of other political prisoners from the now banned Brotherhood. The Egyptian economy is in a mess and the government of coup leader Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is propped up by foreign aid.

Ted Cruz’s bill requiring the US State Department to declare the Muslim Brotherhood as a “foreign terrorist organisation” looks very likely to become law just months after outgoing US President Barak Obama hosted a meeting with some senior members of the movement in Washington. A press release from the Texas senator claims that the Brotherhood “espouses a violent Islamist ideology with a mission of destroying the West”, which is contradicted completely by the group’s own statement.

If Trump hates fake news so much he should practice what he preaches; if he’s going to ban anything at all, it should be political statements by Republican ideologues like Cruz which spread false information. He has had a taste of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of lies when confronted with the dodgy intelligence dossier on his activities in a Moscow hotel. In truth, though, while most of us had a snigger at Trump’s expense, the reality is that no one died.

The deployment of misinformation about the Muslim Brotherhood, on the other hand, has been exploited eagerly by dictatorships with vicious crackdowns on their own citizens, at great cost to liberty and life. The stakes in this issue are high; fake news can be fatal. Now’s the time to put an end to such devious shenanigans. Trump should outlaw them today, and ignore the scaremongering about the Muslim Brotherhood by Ted Cruz or anybody else.

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The Facetious Chronicles of Al-Sisi the Fascisi

The Egyptian Neroah churns a half-smile while Cairo slow-burns and Egypt dies. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
The Egyptian Neroah churns a half-smile while Cairo slow-burns and Egypt dies. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

It turned out to be true. It was the most disgusting capricious report one could imagine, so much not only I but also so many other Syrian activists could not believe it, but it turned out to be true. Al-Sisi, the Wankertator of Egypt, and the jaundiced junta supporting him, did in fact hoist this attached banner in the streets of Cairo.

The banner shows  smiling Al-Sisi sporting his military uniform standing next to a child waving at the dead body of Aylan, the Syrian Kurdish child who drowned off the cast of Turkey in September 2015, and whose death brought international attention to the plight of Syrian refugees, at least for a few weeks, before governments decided to ignore it again. The text accompanying the banner said: “A child who lost his army.”

For those who don’t get how macabre this gesture is, bear in mind that Aylan and his family were trying to escape the violent and bloody repression of the Assad regime’s army, the army that was to be protecting them, when their boat overturned and they drowned. Al-Sisi’s people are standing the truth on its head in order to justify their repression at home and their support of the maniacal regime of Bashar Al-Assad.

There is something so macabre and anathematic about dictators’ continued existence in this day and age, something that poisons the soul and militates against one’s own sense of humanity. No justification works anymore. They are neither father figures, nor modernizers, nor peacemakers, but maniacal ravishers and a deadly plague. Yes, they have some popular support, but some people are willing to make peace with cancer knowing that they would die of it, but, no matter what they think, they have no right to kill the rest of us. Because this particular cancer does not discriminate. This applies to Al-Sisi’s supporters as well as those of his earlier Islamist iteration: Mursi, the little horsy that couldn’t deceive enough people for a long enough time to sacralize his Islamist agenda in the form of a constitution.

Being critical of both sides of Egypt’s malaise wins me no admirers neither in Egyptian or Syrian circles. Some Syrians expect me to support Mursi and oppose Al-Sisi based on their positions towards the Syrian conflict, not their overall policies and worldview. But no can do.

When Al-Sisi mounted his coup, I was sad and wrote something like this on Facebook page: this is what the Muslim Brotherhood’s blind hubris managed to accomplish – it facilitate a return to military rule. I don’t support coup d’état’s but I cannot support religious autocracy, even if its wannabe founders came as a result of a popular vote. Indeed, the inability to understand that winning an election does not entitle one to rule as he and his party pleased, refashioning the state in their image and according to their particularistic vision, this inability does emanate from wishful stupidity but from willful blindness and Machiavellian machinations. Willingness to compromise is the only way out of this crisis, but many people cannot handle compromise it seems, and nuance is not something that they are used to. To them, I cannot be against Al-Sisi’s coup and not for MB. I am either for this side, or that side. And being with a side means treating its representatives as heroes. And our heroes are always saints, our villains perfectly villains, the ones inside and the ones outside. And our victimhood, for we are victims after all, we must be victims seeing how weak and insignificant we are, there is no denying this, not by any stretch of the imagination, our victimhood is always a perfect undeserved one, one to which we did absolutely nothing to contribute. It’s always the other’s fault: the others inside, and the others outside. That makes all of us guilty, therefore, none of us is.

So, here it is Egypt a victim of terrorism, but that infamous recent terrorist attack didn’t happen. This is probably why Egypt needs to maintain its position on the list of worst offenders against journalists.

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Mohamed Fahmy hits out at al-Jazeera over its protection of journalists

Reporter jailed last June with Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed says network had own political agenda during reign of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy says the network left him and his Egypt-based colleagues unprotected.
 Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy says the network left him and his Egypt-based colleagues unprotected. Photograph: Hasan Mohamed/AFP/Getty

The al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who is awaiting retrial after more than a year in an Egyptian prison, has accused the network of “epic negligence” and said it was partially to blame for his arrest and imprisonment. 

Fahmy called it naive and misleading to see the case purely as a crackdown on press freedom because Qatar, which funds the al-Jazeera network, used it to “wage a media war” against Cairo.

Fahmy, who had both Egyptian and Canadian nationality before giving up his Egyptian passport in an attempt to speed up his deportation in December, and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian, are due back in court next week following the release of their Australian colleague, Peter Greste, earlier this month. The three al-Jazeera English (AJE) employees were jailed last June on trumped-up charges of helping terrorists and spreading false news.

Fahmy’s comments follow several attempts to present his case in a more favourable light to the Cairo establishment in recent months, including an opinion piece in Egypt’s leading private broadsheet that expressed his support for the army’s overthrow of ex-president Mohamed Morsi.

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If You’re in Cairo: Doum Storytelling Nights

Starting tomorrow in Cairo, you can attend the “Doum Storytelling Nights,” a return to the art of oral storytelling:By Mona Elnamourydoum1This storytelling night event — at Bayt al-Sennari, Sayda Zainab — is carried out by the Seshat series for creative writing workshop, which now hosts around fifty writers of different ages and both sexes.The workshop, which is a “Doum” project, has been moderated by novelist Sahar Elmougy.Elmougy has been at the center of reviving cultural interest in the art of oral storytelling ever since her first feminist storytelling venture about women and memory “Qalat al-Raweya” (“The Female Narrator Said”), a 2009 project of revisioning/ rewriting folk tales from a feminist perspective. After that, there was “Ana al-Hekaya” (“I am the Tale”). Co-establishing the non-profit Doum Cultural Fundation with novelist Khaled Alkhamisi helped Elmougy further the idea of culturally engaging with as many people as possible. Doum’s mission is to foster critical thinking in Egypt by producing cultural material capable of reaching as many people as possible.The idea of the workshop has been to create a common field among writers to develop their creative and critical capacities and tools. It developed beyond the literary output of the workshops into creating a human bridge between the writer and the audience; the stories become interactive areas of identification and awakening. Away from the clichés of the aloof cultural product in books or in isolated cultural forums, the Doum Storytelling Project assures both writers and audience that they can find a basic unifying ground in which there is neither barriers nor discrimination.The content of the upcoming event constitutes everyday stories centered on our life experiences, feelings, expectations, and aspirations, all braided into one overarching narrative. The stories seem to point out that as many roads there are — roads of loneliness, union, answers, or questions — they are still familiar and human, and they still intersect.The first Doum storytelling events took place during Ramadan 2014, and they conveyed many themes, gratitude among them. They were such a pleasant surprise. Preceded by months of training and awakening great narrative potential of the selected narrators, the upcoming event, “Ping-Pong,” is even more professional and sophisticated.

Attending Ping-Pong at Bayt al-Sennari, you are promised a performance that will push you to laughter, tears, and wonder. More important it will push you to think and rethink of sentences that will sound wonderful and astonishing though they are familiar. You will be haunted by questions for a long time while driving, bathing, and making coffee or when you put your heads on your pillows at night. Questions are all that matter.

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Dr. Mona Elnamoury is a lecturer at the faculty of Arts, English Dept., Tanta University. She also teaches at the MSA in the faculty of Languages and Translation, and has translated Ursula LeGuin into Arabic and is part of the Seshat continous creative writing workshop and storytelling project. She also writes.

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Rumors Swirling About Israel’s Shocking ‘Endgame’ Plan for Palestinians in Gaza

Nazareth. Jonathan Cook

What is Israel’s endgame in Gaza? It is a question that has been puzzling analysts and observers for some time. But indications of the future Israel and Washington may have in mind for Gaza are emerging.

Desperately overcrowded, short on basic resources like fresh water, blockaded for eight years by Israel, with its infrastructure intermittently destroyed by Israeli bombing campaigns, Gaza looks like a giant pressure cooker waiting to explode.

It is difficult to imagine that sooner or later Israel will not face a massive upheaval on its doorstep. So how does Israel propose to avert a scenario in which it must either savagely repress a mass uprising by Palestinians in Gaza or sit by and watch them tear down their prison walls?

Reports in the Arab and Israeli media – in part corroborated by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas – suggest that Egypt may be at the heart of plans to solve the problem on Israel’s behalf.

This month the Israeli media reported claims, apparently leaked by Israeli officials, that Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, had offered the Palestinian leadership the chance to annex to Gaza an area of 1,600 sq km in Sinai. The donated territory would expand Gaza fivefold.

The scheme is said to have received the blessing of the United States.

‘Greater Gaza’ plan

According to the reports, the territory in Sinai would become a demilitarised Palestinian state – dubbed “Greater Gaza” – to which returning Palestinian refugees would be assigned. The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas would have autonomous rule over the cities in the West Bank, comprising about a fifth of that territory. In return, Abbas would have to give up the right to a state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The plan, which would most likely result in significant numbers of Palestinians moving outside the borders of historic Palestine, was quickly dismissed as “fabricated and baseless” by Egyptian and Palestinian officials.

Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a spokesman for Abbas, accused Israel of using the proposal to “destroy the Palestinian cause”, referring to Abbas’ efforts at the United Nations to win recognition of Palestinian statehood on parts of historic Palestine.

But Abdel Rahim’s denial raised more questions than it answered. While rejecting suggestions that Sisi had made such an offer, he made a surprising claim: a similar plan, to resettle Palestinian refugees in Sinai, had been advanced briefly by Sisi’s predecessor, Mohamed Morsi.

Morsi, who served as president for a year from summer 2012 until his ousting by Sisi in a military coup, headed a Muslim Brotherhood administration that tried to strengthen ties to the Hamas leadership in Gaza.

He said the plan was based on a proposal made by Giora Eiland, Israel’s national security adviser from 2004 to 2006. Abdel Rahim appeared to be referring to a plan unveiled by Eiland in 2004 that Israel hoped would be implemented after the withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from Gaza – the so-called disengagement – a year later.

Under Eiland’s terms, Egypt would agree to expand Gaza into the Sinai in return for Israel giving Egypt land in the Negev.

Zionist strategies

The idea of creating a Palestinian state outside historic Palestine – in either Jordan or Sinai – has a long pedigree in Zionist thinking. “Jordan is Palestine” has been a rallying cry on the Israeli right for decades. There have been parallel suggestions for Sinai.

In recent times, the Sinai option has found favour with the Israeli right, especially following the outbreak of the second intifada 14 years ago. Support appears to have intensified after the disengagement in 2005 and Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian national elections a year later.

Notably, the scheme became the centrepiece of the 2004 Herzliya conference, an annual meeting of Israel’s political, academic and security elites to exchange and develop policy ideas. It was then enthusiastically adopted by Uzi Arad, the conference’s founder and a long-time adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister.

He proposed a three-way exchange, in which the Palestinians would get part of Sinai for their state, while in return Israel would receive most of the West Bank, and Egypt would be given a land passage across the Negev to connect it to Jordan.

A variation of the “Sinai is Palestine” option was dusted off again by the right during Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s 50-day attack on Gaza this summer.

Moshe Feiglin, the Speaker of the Israeli Knesset and a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, called for Gaza’s inhabitants to be expelled from their homes under cover of the operation and moved into Sinai, in what he termed a “solution for Gaza”.

Did Morsi offer Sinai?

Given that the rationale of the Sinai option is to remove Palestinians from what the Israeli right considers Greater Israel, and such a plan is vehemently opposed by all Palestinian factions, including Hamas, why would Morsi have backed it?

Further, why would he have proposed giving up a chunk of Egyptian territory to satisfy Israeli ambitions, thereby undermining his domestic credibility, at a time when he was fighting for political survival on many other fronts?

One possibility is that Abbas’ office simply made up the story to discredit Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, and by extension Abbas’ political rivals in Hamas, and thereby win favour with Sisi.

But few Palestinians or Egyptians appear to have found the claim credible, and Sisi has shown no interest in pursuing this line of attack against Morsi. Why would Abbas fabricate a story that might rebound on him by linking him to underhanded moves by Egypt, Israel and the US?

There are two further pieces of the jigsaw suggesting that there may be more to the Sinai story than meets the eye.

The first are comments made by Abbas shortly before the Israeli media began reporting the alleged offer by Sisi, as rumours started circulating in the Arab media.

Abbas signalled at a meeting with Fatah loyalists on August 31 that a proposal to create a Palestinian state in Sinai was still of interest to Egyptian officials.

He reportedly said: “A senior leader in Egypt said: ‘a refuge must be found for the Palestinians and we have all this open land.’ This was said to me personally. But it’s illogical for the problem to be solved at Egypt’s expense. We won’t have it.”

The Times of Israel website said it had subsequently confirmed the comments with Abbas.

The Palestinian leader made similar remarks on Egyptian TV a week earlier, when he told an interviewer an Israeli plan for the Sinai had been “unfortunately accepted by some here [in Egypt]. Don’t ask me more about that. We abolished it, because it can’t be.”

What about Mubarak?

The second clue was provided in a barely noticed report in English published last month on the website of the Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, headquartered in London but with strong ties to the Saudi royal family.

It claimed that in the later years of his presidency, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak came under concerted and repeated pressure from the US to cede territory in Sinai to the Palestinians to help them establish a state.

The article, based on information reportedly provided by an unnamed former Mubarak official, stated that pressure started to be exerted on Egypt from 2007.

The source quoted Mubarak as saying at the time: “We are fighting both the US and Israel. There is pressure on us to open the Rafah crossing for the Palestinians and grant them freedom of residence, particularly in Sinai. In a year or two, the issue of Palestinian refugee camps in Sinai will be internationalized.”

In Mubarak’s view, according to the report, Israel hoped that, once Palestinians were on Egyptian soil, the combined area of Sinai and Gaza would be treated as the Palestinian state. This would be the only territory to which Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return.

Anticipating later statements by Abbas’ office, the Egyptian source said a similar proposal was put to Morsi when he came to power in 2012. A delegation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders travelled to Washington, where White House officials proposed that “Egypt cede a third of the Sinai to Gaza in a two-stage process spanning four to five years”.

US officials, the report stated, promised to “establish and fully support a Palestinian state” in the Sinai, including the establishment of seaports and an airport. The Brotherhood was urged to prepare Egyptian public opinion for the deal.

Pieces of the jigsaw

So what sense can we make of these various pieces of the jigsaw?

Each in itself can be discounted. The Asharq al-Awsat report is based on an anonymous source and there may be Saudi interests at work in promoting the story. Likewise, the Israelis could be waging a disinformation campaign.

But taken together, and given that Abbas appears reluctantly to have conceded key elements of the story, it becomes much harder to ignore the likelihood that the reports are grounded in some kind of reality.

There seems little doubt – from these reports and from the wider aspirations of the Israeli right – that a Sinai plan has been crafted by Israel’s security establishment and is being aggressively advanced, not least through the current leaks to the Israeli media. It also looks strongly like variations of this plan have been pushed more vigorously since 2007, when Hamas took exclusive control of Gaza.

Israel’s current rationale for the Sinai option is that it undermines Abbas’ intensifying campaign at the United Nations to seek recognition of Palestinian statehood, which Israel and the US adamantly oppose.

It also seems plausible, given the strength of its ties to Israel, that the US is backing the plan and adding its considerable weight to persuade the Egyptian and Palestinian leaderships.

Harder to read, however, is whether Egypt might have responded positively to such a campaign.

An Egyptian analyst explained the expected reaction from Sisi and his generals: “Egypt is relentlessly trying to keep Gaza at bay. Tunnels are being destroyed and a buffer zone is planned. Bringing more potentially hostile elements closer to Egypt would be a dangerous and reckless move.”

This is true enough. So what leverage do Israel and the US have over Egypt that might persuade it to override its national security concerns?

Turning the screw

Aside from the large sums of military aid Washington gives to Egypt each year, there is the increasingly pressing matter for Cairo of dire fuel shortages, which risk inflaming a new round of street protests.

Israel has recently discovered large offshore deposits of natural gas, which is it is ready to export to its neighbours. It is already quietly agreeing deals with the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, and is reported to be in advanced discussions with Egypt.

Is this part of the pressure being exerted on Egyptian leaders to concede territory in Sinai? And has it been enough to make them overlook their security concerns?

Finally, there is the Palestinian leadership’s role. Abbas has said firmly he will not countenance such a deal. How might Israel think it can change his mind?

One controversial possibility, which throws a very different light on the events of this summer, is that Israel may hope it can “soften up” Palestinian opinion, especially in Gaza, by making life even less bearable than it already is for the population there.

It is noticeable that Israel’s large-scale operations attacking Gaza – in the winter of 2008-09, 2012 and again this year – started shortly after Israel and the US, according to Asharq al-Awsat, began turning the screws on Mubarak to concede part of Sinai.

The massive and repeated destruction of Gaza has the added advantage for Israel that it would allow Cairo to cast its offer of a small slice of the Sinai to the Palestinians as a desperately needed humanitarian gesture.

The success of Israel’s approach requires isolating Gaza, through a blockade, and inflicting massive damage on it to encourage Palestinians to rethink their opposition to a state outside historic Palestine. That precisely fits Israeli policy since 2007.

The Sinai option may be difficult to confirm at this stage but we should keep it firmly in mind as we try to make sense of unfolding events in the region over the coming months and years.

A version of this article first appeared in Middle East Eye

 

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair.”

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Israel Spin – Mark Regrev

The November 2012 cease fire has been abandoned after 3 Israeli teenagers were killed and a revenge attack on a Palestinian teenager escalated into rocket attacks.
Abandoning the cease fire comes at a time as Israel seeks to continue its strangle hold control as the single energy producer for the region. Egypt, the wold’s largest Arab populace is almost completely reliant on Israel for energy. This may be seen by Hamas as a reason for not using an Egyptian intermediary in continued peace talks with Israel and as a method to stop further Israeli control in the energy sector of the Arab nations.

Mark Regrev is the Israeli Prime Ministers spokesperson…he is speaking here with Australian Television 14th July 2014.
His well practised spin is like a sing song prayer, hypnotising the watcher like some vaudeville character.

 

thedigitalfolklore | juillet 14, 2014 à 5:55   | Catégories: URL: http://wp.me/p1jpRz-69Y

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How Egypt’s New Regime is Silencing Civil Society

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Somewhere in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak must be smiling, knowing that three years after his downfall, he has won after all.

After three decades of muzzling civil society, of harassing, detaining and torturing political activists, scholars, journalists, lawyers, doctors and regular citizens of all stripes, Mubarak never was able to accomplish what the new regime has achieved in a matter of months.

Mubarak was never able to silence completely civil society. The judiciary rose up to check his periodic grabs to expand his power, frustrating his regime so much that in his last years, he collaborated with the military to set up an entirely separate system of military courts to try scholars, activists and others who spoke out in defiance.

All of that is gone now. In just one week, we have had a dizzying series of show trials and detentions.

In three cases, civilian judges handed down death sentences against large number of supporters of former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s top religious figure. In another, three Al Jazeera English journalists were convicted of “falsifying news” and belonging to or assisting the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Finally, on Tuesday, 23 Egyptians were detained for a peaceful march to the presidential palace. The protesters were first attacked by groups of men in civilian clothes before they were arrested for violating the new Protest Law. Some may have been simply bystanders. One was a noted women’s rights activist who told friends she was arrested while buying water from a kiosk near the protests.

Egyptian defendants’ relatives mourn after Egypt court refers 638 Morsi supporters are sentenced to death sentence in the coutnry’s latest mass trial (Photo Credit: Ahmed Ismail/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

All of this is disturbing, but most of all the total failure of the judicial system to maintain any semblance of fair justice.

In the words of the Amnesty International trial observer, these trials were a “farcical spectacle.” Death penalties, we said, are now being issued “at a drop of a hat.” Journalists were “jailed for journalism.”

Some of the details resemble dark comedy. The low point of a bad week of the judiciary came in one of the death penalty cases, involving 683 defendants. As the judge listed the sentences, one of the defendants was first sentenced to death and then to 15 years in prison. Three days later, there’s still public confusion about which sentence he received.

A second man sentenced in a second death penalty case was a blind man who could not have possibly been involved in any political violence.

Egyptian relatives of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi cry sitting outside the courthouse after the court ordered the execution of 529 Morsi supporters after only two hearings (Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images).

Piously, Egypt’s leaders deny any politicization of the judiciary. Responding to pleas from President Obama to release the journalists, Egypt’s new president Abdul el-Sisi, said on television that he wouldn’t dare interfere with the rulings because that doesn’t happen in Egypt.

It’s despicable that after this week President Sisi would celebrate “the independence” of the Egyptian judiciary. Egypt’s judicial system is broken and is no longer able to deliver justice.Its role now is to silence dissent.

That should be a matter of concern to the Egyptian president, but the judiciary’s failure is far too closely related to the expansion of the regime’s powers, its broad ability to silence all political activity, and the wide immunity its police, security and military forces have for any abuses.

This is a familiar pattern of abuses for Egypt. What’s new is now Egyptians can’t depend on the judiciary for the mildest of protections.

Take action to have Egyptian officials release all prisoners of conscience, squash the death sentences and end the use of the death penalty in all cases.

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Syria, 144 refugees stopped in Egypt locked in two rooms with 63 children.

 

a letter written by the detained Syrians in Egypt

Stopped in the middle of the sea by the Egyptian Coast Guard, aboard a boat that was sinking shortly after the start of its journey to Europe. Locked within the premises of a police station in Alexandria, where the police prevent the arrival of relief supplies of Caritas

WRITTEN by STEFANO PASTA, translated by Mary Rizzo

MILAN- Through WhatsApp, we interviewed Syrian refugees held since 14 April in Al Rashid police station in Alexandria, Egypt. Having failed to reach Europe with a barge, they were handed over to the Egyptian authorities, but now risk transfer to the prison of Al Burj , or – even worse – repatriation to Syria.

What is your situation like today?

Disastrous hygienic conditions are dangerous due to a broken sewer. We are 144 persons living in two rooms measuring only a few meters, one room for women and one for men. We sleep on the ground and we cannot wash. We try to keep calm, but when it happened a few days ago there were moments of tension between us, the police prevented the visits for that day and suspended the coffee and the food brought from outside by Caritas Alexandria. The boys and men are still able to resist in some way, but the women and children are really at the limit; there are two women with heart problems who finished their medicine and they need to get out immediately.

What is the situation of children?

There are 44 children under the age of 12, while the total number of children is 63. There are a few who are trying to play with water bottles and they are the only ones who can get distracted for a moment. At night, however, they find it difficult to sleep. As of yesterday, almost all of them have developed a sort of skin disease that no one can identify. Two children of one and two and a half years, alone with his mother because his father was killed in Syria, were suffering particularly yesterday , they were taken to the hospital five times because they suffer from asthma and staying in this place of detention is equivalent to sleeping in a garbage dump. We are also concerned about another 4 year old girl, suffering from cardiac difficulties, who had begun to complain about the chest pain already in the midst of the sea.

Why did you flee from Syria?

Many of us have fled to avoid conscription in the army of Assad, others are activists against the regime who are risking their lives. Then there are families who have fled their homes because they could not survive in some cities, people are dying of hunger because of the siege of the regular army (regime army), which does not allow the entry of food. There is no bread and milk for the children, while the rice when one can find it, costs almost twenty dollars a kilo. Life like that is simply impossible, that’s why we escaped.

Have you talked with a lawyer or with international authorities?

No, none of us was able to speak with a lawyer or has received a sheet with the written reasons for why we are being detained. We met a lawyer named Ahmad, who initially presented himself as belonging to UNHCR, but then he began to terrorise us by threatening to have us repatriated and he revealed that he works for Egyptian National Security.  This is our greatest fear, because it would be tantamount to a death sentence; also return to Lebanon would be very dangerous, since it has already happened that Hezbollah has handed over some refuges to Assad. After a week from the meeting with Ahmad, presented to us is a UN official, at least this is what he is telling us, along with an interpreter, in which we explained how we ended up in the police station.

How did it happen?

What happened before our arrest was a nightmare. We were ready to face the Mediterranean to reach Europe and we had entrusted ourselves to smugglers, who treated us badly, screaming profanities and threatening to beat us with bars, even children. With small boats, we were taken in groups on a larger boat, where we were parked at sea for seven days waiting for it to fill up to 250 people. When we were ready to leave, the same smugglers noticed that the boat was about to sink. It was the worst time since we left Syria: we could die and nobody would know. Then, after a fight broke out between the smugglers on the boat and the organisers were on the ground, we were able to convince them to bring us back; we passed the Coast Guard, but no one saw us. Once on the beach, we ourselves went to the Egyptian authorities, asking for help, but since that day, April 14, we were all arrested, including children.

Have you heard of other refugees detained in Egypt?

Of course, we have detailed information because they are members of our own families. The wife of a man who is here at Al Rashid is held in another place, then we know where the traveling companions arrested with us are. In the police station in Al Montazah there are 22 people, 55 in Chabrakhit and an unknown number – but with so many children – in Miami.

What are you asking for?

We call for the respect of Article 33 of the Geneva Convention, which prohibits any member country the repatriation (refoulement ) of persons to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened . We ask UNHCR and the European embassies (we initiated contact with the Austrian one) to be able to apply for asylum. We ask the Europeans: would you like your children to have the Mediterranean as their graves? Open a humanitarian corridor, let us save our lives legally.

thank you to Nawal 

source

Women for Gaza

Dear Friends,

The media impact having been considerable, you have no doubt learned that we were NOT able to enter the Gaza Strip where we had been invited by a number of women’s associations on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Most of us had been held up at the Cairo airport by the Egyptian government, which had despicably carried out Israeli orders, thus showing to the world that it fully collaborates in the Gaza blockade.

The boarder between Egypt and the Gaza Strip is effectively hermetically sealed, and not for security reasons. In reality, as the young people of Gaza, who have in their turn launched an appeal for help (as has the Palestinian Center for Human Rights), have written, security is just a pretext, because the Egypt-Israeli boarder at Taba, where incidents have occurred has not been closed a single day!

But look at what the lackeys of the Israeli occupation have won by blocking us in Cairo!

A huge demonstration that lasted 48 hours at the airport in plain vue of Egyptian passengers and air personnel, who, to the great displeasure of those carrying out the dirty work, showed us their approval and encouragement, proving that they are not the dupes of governmental anti-Palestinian propaganda.

The dozens of women from different countries transformed the checkpoint into a truly public scene and made fools of their jailers in front of the world, as you can judge from these images: http://www.europalestine.com/spip.php?article9150

The Palestinians who had been waiting for us told us how proud they were of our resistance and our solidarity. More than just a visit of a few days, what those women expect of us, all of us, is that we help them to open the huge prison in which they find themselves, that we help them to no longer have to depend on the charity of European or other institutions, that we help them to break the silence about this 21st century concentration camp, that we help them to recover their freedom.

So we invite you to continue the fight for this liberation with them and with us by all the means at our disposal: the boycott campaign against Israel, the public expression of our indignation, our votes for only those electoral candidates who denounce the blockade and who will watch out that businesses in their cities do not sell products illegally exported by the Israeli occupier.

And we can equally demand of all elected officials, of all political parties, of all associations who say “never again” to officially invite Palestinian women from the Gaza Strip to come visit France.

If you wish to debate with us and with the women of Gaza, we invite you to an important meeting on Saturday, 22 March at 17h00 at the Résistances bookstore in Paris. The program will include a videoconference with the women of Gaza and the screening of films showing our being blocked in Cairo and the campaign against the Gaza blockade. All will take place in the presence of a number of women from the Coalition who will give testimony.

Also we wish to inform you that donations received for the benefit of women’s associations in Gaza before our departure will be rapidly transferred to them. We will keep you informed of their exact use.

Best wishes,

CAPJPO-EuroPalestine

More information and videos on http://www.europalestine.com

See also

Israel fait perdre la face au gouvernement égyptien

Voir aussi : Aéroport du Caire : hommes enragés, femmes engagées !

Voir aussi : Quelle ambiance ! Merci Donna pour ces deux vidéos !

Voir aussi :   Pas triste le retour de la Coalition dans les aéroports !

Voir aussi :   Aéroport du Caire : ils en ont eu pour leur argent : !

Voir aussi : Témoignage de Donna en texte et en images :

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