Can Tony Blair Mess up Egypt even Worse?

By Juan Cole

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has agreed to advise the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Blair maintains that he will not be paid to do so, but critics suggest that he will have an opportunity to engage in influence-peddling with British firms investing in Egypt. Blair is rumored to make $30 million a year from consulting and business deals.

That a former prime minister of a major European democracy should publicly associate himself with the regime of al-Sisi is shameful. Al-Sisi has ordered a brutal crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins that left over a thousand dead and went on to have some 20,000 Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters arrested. Dozens of major Muslim Brotherhood figures have been arbitrarily condemned to death, often without much in the way of formal court proceedings (presentation of evidence, ability to face one’s accuser, etc.). The government has also turned on the progressive youth movements that demanded a recall election last year this time, jailing dozens of prominent youth leaders for daring to engage in unauthorized protests. But unauthorized protests were precisely what allowed al-Sisi to come to power.

One of the attractions for Blair in working with the United Arab Emirates and al-Sisi is apparently that the latter two have turned against the Muslim Brotherhood. Blair is a profound Islamophobe and hates the Muslim religious Right, even though he has been perfectly happy to shill for the Christian religious Right. Al-Sisi has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization” despite the group’s decades of peaceful organizing and avoidance of violence. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also lobbied the UK government to investigate the Brotherhood in Britain as a terrorist group.

Since Blair was so good at railroading Iraq on false charges of having weapons of mass destruction, he no doubt has been hired in part to do a similar number on the Brotherhood. (The Muslim Brotherhood and I don’t share values, but they are not terrorists and there are no grounds to exclude them from a legitimate role in a democratic society. If the Morsi group committed crimes while in office, they should be tried, but you can’t inflict collective punishment on the whole organization).

The Muslim Brotherhood has many flaws, from a Liberal point of view, but it actually provided far more freedom of conscience and pluralism when in power in Egypt in 2012-2013 than does the government of Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah doesn’t dislike the religious Right. He *is* the religious Right.

So Blair has a big problem with the Brotherhood but none whatsoever with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is far more dictatorial and controlling on religious grounds than was President Muhammad Morsi. It all depends on how pliant you are toward the business and financial centers in the City, apparently.

Blair is highly selective in his outrage. In 2007 he notoriously took BP executives along on a trip to see Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Blair praised the mercurial Brother Leader, saying that “There is nothing I’ve ever agreed with him that should be done that hasn’t been done.” Gaddafi was behind the blowing up of a civilian aircraft over Britain and had helped train the more violent elements of the Irish Republican Army, but all that was suddenly forgiven because Gaddafi would help fight “terrorism” (which is to say, Libyans who were insufficiently obedient) and would offer BP bids worth, ultimately, some $18 billion.

Egypt has electricity shortages and desperately needs to move quickly to solar and wind energy and away from hydrocarbons. But al-Sisi is now being advised by someone close to BP. Is Blair capable under these circumstances of advising al-Sisi impartially that Egypt should move rapidly to green energy?

Egypt’s tourism industry has been deeply damaged by the bombings and insecurity caused by al-Sisi’s marginalization of some 20% of the electorate. Al-Sisi should lighten up. If Brotherhood members were allowed back into the political process, that would make them less likely to be radicalized. Otherwise, getting the tourism industry going again will be an uphill battle. There were bombings this week at the presidential palace in commemoration of the anniversary of the 2013 “revocouption” (or popular protests plus military coup) against Morsi by al-Sisi.

Blair himself is said to have sold out to billionaire press lord Rupert Murdoch. That model, of saying you are for workers while you actually serve the 1%, was actually developed by the british governeent.

With his Neoliberal biases (urging privatization of public companies and goods) and his hatred of political Islam, Blair will reinforce the worst instincts of the current government. As he showed in his dalliance with Gaddafi, he is less interested in human rights than in profits for British firms. And that is likely the same trade-off he will make in Cairo.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Maher of April 6 and Manienoor El Masry of the Revolutionary Socialists languish in Gen. Sisi’s jails. Does Blair care about these youth leaders of the 2011 revolution, or are they now just inconvenient.

—-

Related video

Egypt marks first anniversary of ousting of Mohamed Morsi

13 Responses

  1. How certain are you really that Gaddafi was behind the bomb over Lockerbie? The publicly available evidence seems pretty weak IMHO.

    • It was the Assads or at the very least Syria in general. The initial press releases acknowledged this but the press & the authorities turned on a dime to switch to laying culpability at Gaddafi’s feet. In turn, Gaddafi obliged playing the role of the boogie man to serve his own ends.

      See: link to bbc.co.uk

  2. Well, as with Obama and Geithner and Emanuel and PetChrystal the rest of his crew, a wise ruler hires experts with the right resumes and past portfolios and future opportunities. And we still have a smidgen of Freedom ™, so we can voice our stunned appreciation of their daring and guile…

  3. How much worse can it get?

    Something I learned this morning.

    There was a G77 meeting in June in Bolivia. 133 nations attended. On dailykos I found in a comment a link to an article

    Evo Morales made some excellent points

    I am going to paste a long segment from the article. If Juan wants to delete it, that is OK.

    A highlight of the summit was the address by Bolivian President Evo Morales, the current chairman of the G77, who traced the political history of the G77 and China and the developing countries and elaborated on the current crises facing the world and the developing countries.

    He then enumerated “several tasks” that needed to be done to “build another world and establish the living-well society”. These included:

    > Living well in harmony with Mother Earth;

    > Sovereignty over natural resources and other areas;

    > Well-being of everyone and provision of basic needs as a human right;

    > Emancipation from the existing international financial system and construction of a new financial architecture;

    > Build a major economic, scientific, technological and cultural partnership among members of the G77 and China;

    > Eradicate hunger from around the world;

    > Strengthen the sovereignty of states from foreign interference, intervention and espionage;

    > Democratic renewal of the states in developing countries; and

    > A new world rising from the South for the whole of humankind.

    “The time has come for the nations of the South,” Morales stated. “In the past we were colonised and enslaved. Today, with every step we take for our liberation, the empires grow decadent and begin to crumble.

    That was from the article which was linked and was found on google search

    link to thestar.com.my

    This morning on the guardian there was an article about how Google filters out content for Europe. They recommended a search engine

    duckduckgo

    I made parallel searches on both Google and duckduckgo and found much different results

    then I found the article with the title

    133 G77 Nations Vow to Destroy America’s New World Order

    The first paragraph of the article is as follows

    June 17, 2014. Bolivia. The American and European media are doing everything they can to black this news out. But it’s not going to stay a secret for long. As of this weekend, there’s a new New World Order on Earth and its enemy is the United States, the EU, the UN Security Council and the world’s shadow government led by the IMF and WTO. This new alliance of poor countries wouldn’t be much of a threat, except it includes two-thirds of the world’s nations including China and India

    Here is the main reason for this comment – the filter bubble

    I know that google tunes itself to particular users but I didn’t realize how much content they filtered out

    Here is a major meeting which poses a challenge to the US and it is blocked out

    Have others noticed the filter bubble keeps them from finding out about things?

    • Don Usher’s post highlights an interesting comparison – Blair and Morales. There is nothing Blair wouldn’t do in the service of Mammon and the other god he claims to worship.

  4. While a lot of very good sense in what you say, I take issue with you when you say “Gaddafi was behind the blowing up of a civilian aircraft over Britain”.

    Just read some of the voluminous reports published by Professor Robert Black (the architect of the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands), on his blog post link to lockerbiecase.blogspot.co.uk; or the judgement of scottish criminal review commission – and it is rapidly obvious that the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is unsound.

    With his conviction being unsound, it is less obvious (though not impossible) that Gadaffi is implicated.

  5. As long as Tony Blair is alive and kicking, you can be sure that feedom lovers of the world will not be safehe – he would be walking from one mischief to another for profit. Frankly, this fox in the shape of a human being disgusts me, period!

  6. As Scott Long has documented, one group suffering the consequences of the Sisi-era repression is LGBT Egyptians. 77 or more have been arrested since last year. Blair, the “pro-gay” prime minister of the UK, is complicit in their oppression now.
    link to paper-bird.net

Comments are closed.