Egypt’s coup regime has devastated its own people in Sinai

A new report by Human Rights Watch has cast light on the scale of the Egyptian dictatorship’s crimes against its own people in the Sinai region.

The report on forced evictions in the Egyptian town of Rafah says that “at least 3,255″ homes, businesses and other local buildings have been demolished by the military since it came back to full power in the coup of July 2013. Innocent people have been forced to move out of their own homes, often at extremely short notice and with little or no compensation in return.

The report opens with a moving quotation from one of the local people who has suffered at the hands of the military in this way, reflecting on what she lost: “I myself used to make food and tea for the soldiers and they came and sat in the shade of our olive tree when the sun beat down on them… My mother told me: ‘The tree is your responsibility. I fed you from it and raised you on it. Even in times of war, we lived from its oil when nobody could find food.’ Now there’s nothing I can do but hold the tree and kiss it and say, ‘Forgive me, mom, what can I do.'”

The town of Rafah sits near the border with Palestine, close to the Gaza city of the same name. Historically, these two places were one city, but as the saying goes, these people did not cross the border, the border crossed them.

Continue reading at MEMO.

Jailing the truth in Egypt

On Saturday, there was a surprise verdict in an Egyptian court. Three Al Jazeera journalists were jailed for three years each in a widely-covered retrial. The three had previously been imprisoned for a year for supposedly “spreading false news” in support of a “terrorist” group – in fact the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood.

The previous verdict had been overturned due to what even the court admitted was a lack of evidence, but this retrial was ordered nonetheless.

One of the three, Australian journalist Peter Greste had been released in February and deported back to Australia. His colleagues Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy are both Egyptian and so have now been sent back to prison.

Read the rest over at MEMO.

Egypt in the hands of a death-sentence regime

On the Egyptian military regime’s spree of death sentences:

Since then, the coup regime has only felt itself more empowered to entrench its control, imprisoning dissidents and critics on the flimsiest of pretexts. These have included many Muslim Brotherhood leaders, but also secular and leftist critics like Alaa Abd El Fattah, who an Egyptian court outrageously sentenced to five years in jail earlier this year for the crime of organizing protests.

More recently, feeling more and more emboldened by tacit support from its American sponsors, the coup regime has been on a grotesque spree of handing out death sentences to many of its imprisoned critics. Egypt is now in danger of becoming a death sentence regime.

Read the whole thing over at MEMO.

Cameron buries Muslim Brotherhood report to please Gulf tyrants

Yet another delay, probably for good this time:

Reports in the British press suggest that Sir John has cleared the Brotherhood of any violent extremist tendencies. It is “not a terrorist organisation but should be more open about its dealings,” is how The Independent summarised the findings on Monday, when the report failed to materialise.

Read the full story here.

Egypt’s military plots destabilization of Gaza

On rumours of an Egyptian “invasion” of Gaza:

After the Muslim Brotherhood, the spectre of Hamas has been been another primary boogie man for the generals. Pro-regime media outlets have relentlessly harped on with one farcical conspiracy theory after the next about Hamas – including the ridiculous claim that Morsi wanted to hand the Sinai over to Hamas.

With the Brotherhood dealt with, these latest Egyptian army threats do not come as a surprise.

Egypt’s farcical election

On Egypt’s recent election:

Buoyed by a newly invigorated cult of personality centred around Sisi, the military dictatorship decided to shore up its power by staging an election to usher in a new constitution. It will free the army, police and intelligence services from civilian control, giving the coup a legalistic veneer.

Once, Saddam Hussein used to to claim 99 percent of Iraqis had voted for him. The dictator Mubarak and his party “won” rigged elections with 80-88 percent. Sisi decided to out do him.

Egypt’s military regime demonizes the Palestinian people

Updating the site with my recent MEMO columns.

In these turbulent times, many things remain uncertain. But there seems to be one reliable constant: the oppression of the Palestinian people throughout the region.
Despite widespread popular support for the Palestinian cause among the Arab peoples, regimes all over the region have used vulnerable Palestinians as easy scape-goats, abusing their human rights in various ways.

Read the whole thing here.

Palestine is Still the Issue: Arab Revolutions and the Recognition of Israel

My fortnightly column published by Ceasefire.

By Asa Winstanley

Last week French so-called philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy was in the press again making extraordinary claims about Libya. He insisted that the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) led by Mustafa Abd al-Jalil was looking to recognise Israel. The TNC intends to “maintain normal relations with other democratic countries, including Israel” Levy said. He even claimed to have delivered a message from the TNC conveying as much to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu himself.

This was immediately denied by a TNC representative in Benghazi. Algerian paper Echorouk said the TNC vice-chairman had denounced Levy’s allegation as “baseless” and insisted they had never asked Levy to convey such a message “to the Zionist entity leaders”, as the paper put it.

He also said the TNC would never recognise Israel and that “such groundless assertions were being propagated by the despotic Gaddafi regime and its henchmen” to tarnish “the image of the national transition council in the eyes of the fervent supporters of the legitimate Palestinian cause in the Arab world and elsewhere.”

This tells us a lot about the nature of the Zionist state and its crimes. The TNC was established to take control of the popular Libyan uprising against the despotic and sadistic Gaddafi regime which broke out in February. Abd al-Jalil himself is a former Gaddafi loyalist and minister. Since the the Libyan intifada was taken over by such elements, the TNC has been doing its best to show deference to its new funders in the EU, the US, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

This week I even saw Abd al-Jalil on TV making excuses for Qatar’s deportation of Iman al-Obeidi. Obeidi is the woman who was allegedly gang-raped by Gaddafi troops and famously appeared on TV screens around the world when she was dragged away by Gaddafi thugs after approaching international journalists at breakfast in a Tripoli hotel.

She was later able to flee to Tunisia, and then onto Qatar. She is now reportedly headed to the US after being deported by the Qatari regime (Channel 4 News has more on on recent developments in her story, alleging the TNC have treated her badly by “using” her in media appearances she was uncomfortable with). After Qatar deported her, Abd al-Jalil bizarrely told al-Jazeera that he “understood” Qatar’s position.

So the TNC is starting to look like a US-Saudi puppet regime along the lines of Iraq (or indeed the previous Gaddafi regime of the last decade). Despite that, it is highly unlikely to recognise Israel. The Libyan people would not allow it, even if the TNC wanted to.

One of the most striking images in the wave of Arab revolutions since the start of the year has been the presence of Palestinian flags on demonstrations throughout. From Tunis to Cairo to Benghazi, expressions of solidarity with the Palestinians have been there all along, represented in such slogans as “the people, demand, the liberation of Palestine” – a play off the most common chant of the revolutionaries: “the people, demand, the fall of the regime”.

The comparison with the puppet regime in Iraq is apt. The Levy episode reminds me of the time in 2008 when members of the US Congress were dismayed to discover that Iraq offered no flights to Israel, because of its lack of relations with the Zionist state.

They had been in Israel for the 60th anniversary celebrations of the 1947-48 ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from Palestine (al-Nakba, The Catastrophe, in Arabic – what Israelis sadistically call “Independence Day”). They decided to visit Iraq for a day but found they had to return to occupied Palestine via Amman. Outraged that billions of dollars in US taxpayer’s cash, was still not enough to buy normalization with Israel, they put forward a congressional resolution demanding Iraq recognise Israel or have its funding cut. But apparently, the resolution was non-binding. I imagine it was never heard from again.

If the US can’t even force puppet regimes like Iraq to recognise Israel, it has no chance should anything resembling democratic states begin to emerge in revolutionary Tunisia and Egypt. Israel relies on kings and other dictators to force through agreements with Arab states against the wishes of their people. And even then there is only Jordan and Egypt, with the latter agreement increasingly being challenged by Egyptians on the streets calling for cancelation or at least amendment of the unequal peace treaty with Israel.

Israel is a state founded on ethnic cleansing and war crimes. Its maintenance relies on a military regime in the West Bank, racial and sectarian segregation policy and law throughout historic Palestine, periodic festivals of massacres against Palestinians and Arabs such as in Gaza, and wars of aggression against country after country. Such a colonial entity implanted in the heart of the Arab world, will never be recognised as “legitimate” by the Arab masses.

It has been quite amusing all year to see Western supporters of Israel in total denial about the nature of the Arab revolutions. They tell themselves tall tales about how people in the region supposedly only resent Israel because of state propaganda that was used to distract attention away from regime crimes to external enemies.

But the reality now and through history has been the opposite: the Palestinian and Arab masses have always had to push Arab regimes into taking any action, however limited, against Israeli war crimes and occupation. It has been the people of the region themselves who have ensured that Palestine is still the moral issue of our time.

Asa Winstanley is a freelance journalist based in London who has lived in and reported from occupied Palestine. He is the co-editor of “Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation” published by Pluto Press in October (with a foreword by Alice Walker).

His Palestine is Still the Issue column appears in Ceasefire every other Saturday. His website is .

The World Turned Upside Down: Is Egypt Heading for a Social Revolution?

Written for and originally published by the New Left Project.

Note: this article was published before the fall of Mubarak. I think it holds up pretty well, especially considering the current wave of strikes in Egypt.

By Asa Winstanley

The massive popular uprising in Egypt is already the most important event in the modern history of the Middle East. It will have wide-reaching reverberations for decades to come. Arab tyrants around the region are already announcing pre-emptive “reforms” in the hope of staving off what US Senator John McCain has called the “virus” of resurgent pan-Arab nationalism.1

Algeria on Thursday said that a state of emergency in place for 19 years will end. Jordan’s King fired his (appointed) government, and Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen claimed that neither he nor his son would run for president elections in 2013.

The prospect of a democratic Egypt means the climate in Israel is now “bordering on hysteria” and the Israeli government is “freaking out” according to Dr Shmuel Bachar of the Israel Institute for Policy and Strategy.2

What started in Egypt on January 25th quickly escalated from a Tunisia-inspired intifada (uprising) into a massive nation-wide revolution against the 30-year dictatorship of key US/Israeli client President Hosni Mubarak. Tens of thousands demonstrated on the streets of Cairo and in cities across the country. This culminated in the “Friday of Rage” on the 28th which resulted in comprehensive defeat of the riot police, exemplified by the already legendary Battle of the Qasr al Nile Bridge:

Continue reading The World Turned Upside Down: Is Egypt Heading for a Social Revolution?