US Fails Miserably to Hold Egypt Accountable, Continues Aid Despite Abuses

On the very day that Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy is in Washington to meet with John Kerry, a court in Egypt, for the second time in just over a month, has sentenced hundreds citizens to death in proceedings that lasted only minutes. Proving the moral depravity of the Obama administration in its dealings with Egypt, the mass death sentence issued a month ago had no impact, as the administration announced only a few short weeks later that it was ending the slight delay that the US had imposed last October on delivery of ten Apache attack helicopters.

Last August, when Egypt’s military ousted the government of Mohamed Morsi, I noted how our government was too cowardly to use the approximately $1.5 billion in aid it gives Egypt annually for the full leverage it could achieve in attempting to force Egypt to cease the atrocities which at that time were mostly killings of civilians but have now moved on to a complete banning of the Muslim Brotherhood and outrageous levels of suppression of the press through arrests of journalists.

Here is the weak tea last October on the delay in military assistance (and note that the Post insists on including disruptions in aid that were applied during Morsi’s rule to inflate the numbers here):

U.S. officials on Wednesday sought to characterize the suspension of some forms of aid as temporary and said they aspire to maintain a robust military and diplomatic partnership with Egypt. Besides F-16 fighter jets, whose delivery was suspended in July, Washington will not be sending Apache helicopters, M1 tanks or Harpoon missiles under existing contracts, officials told reporters in a conference call. In addition, $260 million in cash payment promised to Egypt’s previous government will continue to be suspended. The money was to go for debt relief and general expenses, and been held up over the Morsi government’s failure to come to an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on economic reforms.

“This is not meant to be permanent,” one senior official said during the call, which was conducted on the condition of anonymity for unspecified reasons. “This is meant to be continuously reviewed.”

Considering that the first mass death sentence case verdict was rendered on March 24 and the announcement that shipment of the Apache helicopters would be resumed was announced April 22, it seems likely that the bit about continuously reviewing the disruption in shipment wasn’t aimed at looking for improved behavior on Egypt’s part. Instead, we are left to wonder whether the review was aimed at finding a time when the public’s attention is elsewhere (Russian sanctions!), so that resuming aid will generate little of the outrage it deserves.

Of course, resuming the aid required bending some rules:

The United States has decided to resume delivery of Apache helicopters to Egypt, the Pentagon announced late Tuesday, backtracking on a decision officials made last summer following the country’s military coup and its violent aftermath.

The Obama administration opted to go ahead with the delivery of 10 aircraft to help Egypt combat cells of extremists in the Sinai, even though Washington is unable to meet congressional criteria for the full resumption of aid.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told his Egyptian counterpart, Gen. Sedki Sobhy, in a phone call Tuesday that the United States is “not yet able to certify that Egypt is taking steps to support a democratic transition,” Rear. Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement released at 10 p.m. Hagel urged his counterpart to “demonstrate progress on a more inclusive transition that respects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Egyptians,” the statement said.

Here is the New York Times on the two mass sentencings:

An Egyptian court here on Monday sentenced to death the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and more than 680 other people after a swift mass trial on charges of inciting or committing acts of violence that led to the destruction of a police station and the killing of an officer.

The verdict, after a trial lasting only a few minutes, came just a month after the same judge drew condemnation from around the world for sentencing 529 other people to death in a similarly lightning-fast mass trial. The judge, Sayedd Yousef, affirmed the death sentences Monday of about 40 of the defendants in that mass trial and commuted the others to life in prison, which is understood here to mean 25 years.

Will Obama and Kerry be depraved enough to praise Egypt for changing some 490 or so instantly issued death sentences to life sentences instead?

Word is that Fahmy’s visit with Kerry is meant toredirect relations between Egypt and America”. So far, I see no evidence that the US has any intent for that redirection to have any components that would improve human rights or end brutal repression.

13 replies
  1. Don Bacon says:

    The whole story line that the US promotes stability, freedom and democracy in the world is completely fictitious. The US supports fascists (Ukraine), military dictators (Egypt), anti-Christian Muslim forces (Iraq, Libya and Syria), misogynist despots (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain), human rights violators (Israel), anti-press freedom governments (various), etc. — and that’s just recently.

  2. TarheelDem says:

    Because cutting aid to Egypt would require considering cutting aid to Israel by the same amount. Or Egypt might get the idea that the Camp David Accords had become “quaint”.

    The Rube Goldberg machine of US policy balancing in the Middle East has some severe strains from age and can-kicking.

      • TarheelDem says:

        Zeroing out aid to both Israel and Egypt makes sense to me or to hold it conditional on both signing the NPT and CBWC and zeroing out weapons of mass destruction as Iraq, Syria, and Iran have been asked to do.

      • chronicle says:

        quote”And many of us would very much favor cutting aid to Israel by the same amount or more.”unquote

        And many of us, especially ME, would very much favor cutting aid to the WHOLE GODDAMNED PLANET, and use it to fix MY fucking asinine country.

  3. Jim White says:

    McClatchy brings us the response from the White House:

    The White House said it is “deeply troubled” by the mass death sentence handed down in Egypt on Monday to the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and hundreds of other people.
    The White House urged the Egyptian government to end the use of mass trials, reverse the sentences, and guarantee due process.

    “A fair and transparent criminal justice system free of intimidation and political retribution is an important part of any democracy, and the Egyptian people deserve no less,” the statement said.

    Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, who is in Washington for a visit this week, invoked the Patriot Act and Guantanamo Bay to counter U.S. criticism of Egypt’s crackdown on Brotherhood members and opposition activists.

    And such a stern objection it was, too. But there is nothing in that statement about restoring the delay on the helicopters…

  4. ArizonaBumblebee says:

    You need to give the Obama Administration a break; they’ve got a lot on their plate. Their latest project is only half complete as I write this. There were at least four democratically elected governments they wanted to overthrow over the past year (Egypt, Venezuela, Ukraine, and Turkey – not to mention Iran and Syria, which don’t qualify since they are not real democracies) but, so far, they have only succeeded in Ukraine and Egypt. Being a State Department spokesperson for this administration must require a world-class gymnast. The statements they make for their “Free the Press” campaign apply only to other countries – not to the United States. And, yes, the generals have been given forbearance to conduct show trials for supporters of former President Morsi while there is condemnation for any crackdowns on unruly demonstrators in Kiev, Caracas, and Istanbul. When you are talking out of multiple sides of your mouth, it taxes your credibility and your ability to speak with a straight face. And before I forget, how did our “rule of law” administration get around the statutory provision prohibiting foreign military assistance to any military junta in Egypt?

  5. Don Bacon says:

    Besides promoting the return to a desired autocratic regime in Egypt, the US has also worked with Saudi Arabia to re-solidify the Gulf Cooperation Council by getting Qatar back in line. This will simplify US control in the gulf area and promote further arms sales against the “Iran threat.”
    Apr 20, 2014
    The rift between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain with Qatar seems to have been resolved. On April 17, 2014 the GCC countries, led by their foreign ministers, held an extraordinary meeting at Riyadh Air Base and signed a document that appears to have ended the dispute over Doha’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) and allowing their followers to denounce Gulf monarchies and their allies from the Emirate. Qatar’s Foreign Minister Dr Khalid bin Mohamnad Al-Attiyah took part in the meeting along with his counterparts.
    At the same time, Saudi Arabia apparently requested that the UK investigate the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in Britain or else there would be trouble between the two countries.
    Consequently, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that such an investigation was about to be launched. Riyadh’s threat was real: The kingdom’s investments in Britain total over 100 billion pounds. Many of Saudi Arabia’s financial instruments are tied up in British real estate, bonds, and in the weapons industry. Pulling out of some of these investments would likely have a devastating effect on Britain’s economy.

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