• Activist Arrests in India Are Part of a Dangerous Global Trend to Stifle Dissent | Alternet

    On Tuesday morning, the police from the Indian city of Pune (in the state of Maharashtra) raided the homes of lawyers and social activists across India and arrested five of them. Many of them are not household names around the world, since they are people who work silently on behalf of the poor and oppressed in a country where half the population does not eat sufficiently. Their names are Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Varavara Rao. What unites these people is their commitment to the working class and peasantry, to those who are treated as marginal to India’s state. They are also united by their opposition, which they share with millions of Indians, to the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    The “raw numbers of this terror” are best counted from Turkey. Since the failed coup of July 15, 2016, the government has arrested, detained or dismissed about 160,000 government officials, dismissing 12,000 Kurdish teachers, destroying the livelihood of thousands of people. The editor of Cumhuriyet, Can Dündar, called this the “biggest witch-hunt in Turkey’s history.” In the name of the war on terror and in the name of sedition, the government has arrested and intimidated its political opponents. The normality of this is astounding—leaders of the opposition HDP party remain in prison on the flimsiest of charges, with little international condemnation. They suffer a fate comparable to Brazil’s Lula, also incarcerated with no evidence.

    Governments do not typically like dissent. In Bangladesh, the photographer Shahidul Alam remains in detention for his views on the massive protests in Dhaka for traffic reform and against government corruption. Condemnation of the arrest has come from all quarters, including a British Member of Parliament—Tulip Siddiq—who is the niece of Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The avalanche of criticism has not moved the government. Alam is accused of inciting violence, a charge that is equal parts of ridiculous and absurd.

    Incitement to violence is a common charge. It is what has taken the Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour to an Israeli prison. Tatour’s poem, “Resist, my people, resist them” (Qawim ya sha’abi, qawimhum), was the reason given by the Israeli government to lock her up. The Egyptian government has taken in the poet Galal El-Behairy for the lyrics he wrote for the song “Balaha”—the name a reference to a character in a 1980s film who sees the world in a topsy-turvy manner, a name now used colloquially in Egypt for President Sisi. The Ugandan government has arrested the radio show host Samuel Kyambadde, who merely allowed his talk show to become a forum for a conversation that included items labeled by the government as seditious—such as the arrest of journalists and the arrest of the opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi (also known as Bobi Wine).

    All of them—photographers, poets, radio show hosts—are treated as voices of sedition, dangerous people who can be locked up under regulations that would make any fair-minded person wince. But there is not even any public debate in most of our societies about such measures, no genuine discussion about the slide into the worst kind of authoritarianism, little public outcry.

    #Néo_fascisme #Inde #Turquie #Liberté_expression

  • Time to Rethink U.S. Relationship With Egypt - OpEd of the editorial board of The New York Times

    Administration officials who have cautioned against a break with Egypt say its military and intelligence cooperation is indispensable. It’s time to challenge that premise. Egypt’s scorched-earth approach to fighting militants in the Sinai and its stifling repression may be creating more radicals than the government is neutralizing.

    “We are long overdue for a strategic rethink on who are strong American partners and anchors of stability in the Middle East,” Tamara Cofman Wittes, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former senior State Department official, said in an interview. “Egypt is neither an anchor of stability nor a reliable partner.”

    Mr. Obama and his advisers may conclude that there is little the United States can do to ease Egypt’s despotism during the remaining months of his presidency. That’s not the case. Mr. Obama should personally express to Mr. Sisi his concern about Egypt’s abuses and the country’s counterproductive approach to counterterrorism.

    Mr. Obama has been willing to challenge longstanding assumptions and conventions about Washington’s relations with Middle East nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia. But he has been insufficiently critical of Egypt. Over the next few months, the president should start planning for the possibility of a break in the alliance with Egypt. That scenario appears increasingly necessary, barring a dramatic change of course by Mr. Sisi.

  • Egypt’s Sisi signals shift toward Muslim Brotherhood

    During what was otherwise an ordinary diplomatic visit to the United Kingdom at the beginning of November, Egypt’s President Sisi signaled a significant shift in Egyptian domestic policy and regional politics.

    After an aggressive three-year crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, Sisi publicly stated that the Muslim Brotherhood “are part of Egypt and so the Egyptian people must decide what role they can play.”

  • Egypt: ENI’s Zohr, a boost for political stability

    Regardless if it is correct or not, the discovery of Zohr is already perceived, in Egypt and beyond, as the result of the measures taken to reform the gas sector over the past year. As such, it is a boost for President Sisi. But the reasoning goes both ways: Political stability in Egypt relies on the performance of its energy sector, and putting the energy sector back on track relies on political stability. ENI’s discovery couldn’t have come at a better time for Sisi: On 30/08, Egypt announced it will hold parliamentary elections in October and November 2015. The intense media coverage will make sure Egyptians will head to polls with two “spectacular” achievements directly attributed to Sisi in mind: the inauguration of the new Suez canal, and the discovery of Zohr.

    #Egypte #gaz

  • « The Economist, Suez and Sisi’s cynical PR campaign » (Al-Araby, 13 août)

    The Economist’s ’special edition’ pressing the Suez Canal expansion as Egypt’s “gift to the world” cannot cover up the violence upon which Sisi’s rule operates, writes Heather McRobie.

    Amid much official fanfare and widespread cynicism from a variety of independent voices, Egypt unveiled its expansion of the Suez Canal last week, with President Sisi giving a speech that aligned the endeavour - and, implicitly, his regime - with the “gifts” that Egypt has offered the world over the past 7,000 years.

    Leaving aside the debate of whether the canal expansion was really the large-scale project Egypt most urgently needed to undertake at this time, Sisi certainly harnessed the event to present a Pharonic-like spectacle that tried to conceptually entwine Egypt’s past and future glories with the phony glory of his regime.

    #EgyptRejoices - does it really?

    Many found the overblown symbolism embarrassing at best, and distasteful at worst — considering the vast infrastructure problems, poverty and unemployment rates that Egypt continues to face.

    The celebratory hashtag for the event, #EgyptRejoices, triggered a counter-campaign highlighting the pressing issues of unemployment, poverty, illiteracy and sexual harassment.

    It was therefore surprising to many Egypt-watchers to see an edition of The Economist circulating on social media, with a front cover that positioned the Suez Canal — reworked as the Pharonic Key of Life — next to a smiling image of Sisi, headlined “Egypt’s gift to the world”.

    The Egyptian government later denied that it had paid for the cover, but a flimsy disclaimer at the bottom of the cover that “no endorsement is implied” by The Economist did little to wash away the bad taste at witnessing Sisi’s PR spectacle in action.

    It is worth noting that The Economist has previously published articles critical of Sisi’s polity - from the detention and suppression of journalists to the targeting of Egyptian NGOs. But giving its front page to an advertorial that positions Sisi’s regime as both legitimate and “business friendly” — to use Sisi’s language at the Sharm el Sheikh international business conference last year — sent a much stronger message.

    The Economist’s decision to print this special edition cover further enables Sisi to stand on the world stage as the leader of a legitimate regime, and encourages other countries to form economic and political alliances with “the man who restored order to the country”.

    Having said that, it is particularly ironic that a magazine with as much international clout as The Economist would allow Sisi to use it for his own rehabilitative PR campaign, given that one of the sections of society most targeted by the Egyptian government has been the one The Economist belongs to: journalists and media outlets.

    In the face of a growing online backlash at The Economist’s role in Sisi’s New Suez spectacle, defenders argued that the cover was not produced for sale, and wouldn’t be gracing global newsstands, but was rather produced solely for distribution at the Suez expansion opening ceremony.

    Such a defence, however, contains within it a very revealing aspect of the psyche of Sisi’s establishment: the Pharonic vanity of commissioning a front cover of a globally respected newspaper solely as adornment to a grand ceremony.

    #Egypte #canal_de_Suez #dictature #répression #Al-Sissi #relations_publiques #The_Economist #dip

  • President Sisi’s Canal Extravaganza |
    With spectacle and ceremony, Egypt’s president unveiled an unnecessary infrastructure project in a country that is falling to pieces.
    BY SARAH CARRAUGUST 7, 2015 Foreign Policy

    CAIRO — How apt that Egypt’s latest “gift to the world,” the “New Suez Canal,” makes a two-lane freeway out of the conduit that connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. Everything else in Egypt is going in two opposing directions. The response to the Canal has been no different; polarized and circling round the real issue, like demented frigates.

    In 2014 while on a visit to the United Nations, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that Egypt intended to dust off plans for a project to expand the Suez Canal area that had been buried since the Hosni Mubarak era. A new canal, some 25 kilometers long, has been built parallel to the original canal. In addition, 23 kilometers of the original canal have been widened and deepened. The Egyptian government claims that this has “eradicated” waiting time for up to 50 vessels per day.

    Initially, the project had a three-year timeline, but in a prime bit of theater Sisi enthusiastically demanded that this be reduced to a year while Suez Canal Authority head Vice-Admiral Mohab Mameesh was in the middle of delivering a PowerPoint presentation on the project to military and government bigwigs. “One year! One year and it’ll be finished!” a grinning Sisi said, holding up a finger and then brushing the palms of his hands together. “A year and it will be implemented, sir,” Memeesh replied.

    And now it’s happened.

  • Egypte/Arabie saoudite : Sissi remercie le roi Abdallah « l’homme sage des Arabes » pour son « soutien immédiat » | Mada Masr

    In the interview, Sisi described King Abdallah Ibn Abdel Aziz as “the wise man of the Arabs,” explaining that his intervention in Egypt after the June 30 protests demanding the end of Mohamed Morsi’s rule was not a hasty one, but a well-calculated move based on an assessment of events in the overall region following the 2011 events.

    Sisi also praised Saudi Arabia for initiating the call for an international conference aimed at supporting Egypt economically and said that during this conference, major national projects will be pitched, such as the Suez Canal Development Project as well as a series of new agricultural and industrial projects.

    Sisi then stated that, in the wake of these past three years, many world powers tried to push for a new regional order in the Middle East in order to consolidate a stronger position for themselves. However, when this aspiration failed, and only led to civil wars and instability, these powers lost much of their credibility. “There is unwavering awareness now by international powers regarding the reality in the region and this consciousness is translated into counter-terrorism efforts,” he said.

    Sisi added that although many foreign powers supported terrorist groups in order to advance their ambitions for political change in the region, Egypt is supporting these powers today in their counter-terrorism efforts. He noted that Egypt participated in the Washington counter-terrorism meeting, which included armed forces chiefs of staff from several countries, and which also saw the absence of military representatives from the region. For years, Egypt has always defended its counter-terrorism efforts, particularly in front of the US, he stated.

    The president said that Egypt’s relations with Russia and the US under his rule are not competitive and are only pursued in the country’s interests, fending off speculations that Egypt is trying to strengthen relations with Moscow in order to pressure Washington.

    As for Qatar and Turkey, which have seen souring relations with Egypt since Morsi’s ouster, Sisi said that a rapprochement with these two countries depends on the political will of their leaders, dismissing that this will exists at the moment.

  • President Sisi Goes to the United Nations

    Despite Sisi’s optimistic narrative, his doth-protest-too-much speech left the impression that the Egyptian government still feels uncertain about its international image following Morsi’s overthrow.

    Sisi went to great rhetorical lengths to convince his UN audience of his legitimacy and the positive “reality” of Egypt today. Yet the facts on the ground speak for themselves.

    Sadly for those Egyptians who want the international community to press for democracy, however, the “Egyptian exception” is alive and well. Egypt’s geostrategic location, Sisi’s promises to restore stability and crush terrorism, and the domestic backing for his strongman style are compelling many world leaders to accept him and even deal with him enthusiastically, regardless of how he governs.

  • Bassem Youssef et le mensonge sur la liberté après le coup d’Etat en Egypte | Patrick Galey

    The sad fact in post-coup Egypt is that many people would sooner speak out in support of a man accused of insulting the military than in solidarity with those protesters the military murdered.

    Tweet Adam Akary :
    "The "Sisi is my president"campaign calls for a protest on Monday urging the prosecutor general to bring in Bassem Youssef for investigation."

    A lire sur le sujet : Portrait de l’Égypte en midinette, l’humoriste Bassem Youssef sur une corde raide, sur Orient XXI,0406

    #BassemYoussef #liberté

  • The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب : The Bassem Youssef Show for the new season

    Le point de vue de Angry Arab sur le dernier show de Bassem Youssef.

    The show—unlike what you read in Western media—mocked some fanatic supporters of Sisi but not Sisi himself, or even the Egyptian Army. There was an in passing reference to police brutality, but not Army brutality. This only proves the point that the freest political era in the history of Egypt was in the brief tenure of Morsi. It is a fact and even those of us who detest the Brotherhood should concede. Mr. Youssef talked about “attempts” by the Morsi regime to muzzle the media, while the Sisi regime does not attempt: it muzzles. If I were Mr. Youssef, I would suspend my program until I regain my freedom, or I would express myself freely until the show is closed down by order of Sisi. It is better than those many references of respect of Sisi that Mr. Youssef had to make.

  • Mubarak’s last PM backs army’s Sisi for Egyptian president, and could run for presidency

    Interview d’Ahmed Shafiq.

    In an interview with Dream 2 television station, Shafiq said he would run for president if he had broad support but he would not contest an election if Sisi did.

    “May God give him good fortune. We would all support him and I am the first one to support him,” said Shafiq, who came second to Mursi in the presidential election in 2012. “If Sisi is nominated I will not run.”

    Shafiq was one of an array of candidates who ran in last year’s election, the first time Egyptians freely chose their head of state. The vote was preceded by months of frenzied campaigning, in stark contrast to now.

    Even if Sisi does not run, analysts say the military will remain at the heart of power, curbing the influence of the next head of state.

    Hamdeen Sabahi, a leftist politician who came third in the 2012 election, has also said Sisi would win, while sidestepping questions on his own intentions.

    Analysts have suggested retired or serving military officers would run. Sisi was head of military intelligence under Hosni Mubarak. Former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who came fifth in the election, is also seen as a possible contender.

    The Brotherhood has accused Sisi of trying to rehabilitate the old order that ran Egypt for 30 years under Mubarak.

    Précédente itw, datée du mois de mars “Game over for Mursi and Egypt’s islamist rule”

    #Shafiq #Morsi #Mubarak #Sabahi #army #armée #AlSissi #Egypte #présidentielle

  • Mais puisqu’on te dit qu’Israël n’a rien à voir avec ce qui se passe en Égypte : How American Hopes for a Deal in Egypt Were Undercut

    The Israelis, whose military had close ties to General Sisi from his former post as head of military intelligence, were supporting the takeover as well. Western diplomats say that General Sisi and his circle appeared to be in heavy communication with Israeli colleagues, and the diplomats believed the Israelis were also undercutting the Western message by reassuring the Egyptians not to worry about American threats to cut off aid.

    Israeli officials deny having reassured Egypt about the aid, but acknowledge having lobbied Washington to protect it.

    When Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, proposed an amendment halting military aid to Egypt, the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee sent a letter to senators on July 31 opposing it, saying it “could increase instability in Egypt and undermine important U.S. interests and negatively impact our Israeli ally.” Statements from influential lawmakers echoed the letter, and the Senate defeated the measure, 86 to 13, later that day.