Tag Archives: Egypt

Meet the controversial actor and businessman standing up against Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

Mohamed Ali infuriates Field Marshal President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt. His waspish, cruel, outrageously funny, solemnly pedantic videos and social media messages transmitted from his self-exile in Spain, mocking the man who overthrew Egypt’s first elected president, even brought demonstrators back on to the streets of Cairo in September. But the 45-year-old actor and businessman admits to me, after much false modesty, that he would like to play Sisi – if only for just one day.

And if his description of the president – corrupt and corrupting, leading a nepotistic clan of army officers – is anything like the truth, then I have a suspicion that Sisi might like to play Ali for a day too: for the iconoclast who chain-smokes his way through his video rants, demanding back pay for the massive army palace he claims to have constructed for Sisi, might be a satisfying role for a man who claims not only to be uncorrupted by power but to have saved Egypt from Islamist “terror”. Sisi calls all of Ali’s allegations “lies”.

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Posted by on December 12, 2019 in Africa



Curtains for Sisi? How Mohamed Ali upstaged Egypt’s greatest showman

If Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had chosen an alternative career, it should surely have been the stage.

His was a sympathetic voice from military intelligence assuring both liberals and Islamists in Tahrir Square in January 2011 that the army was on their side.

For the late President Mohamed Morsi, Sisi played the religiously observant, younger general.

Sisi, the saviour?

His were the trembling hands and theatrical show of nerves, waiting in the wings in a side room of the presidential palace, while his bosses – then Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and Sami Anan – were being sacked as head of the army and chief of staff.

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Posted by on October 7, 2019 in Africa



Trump’s hissy-fit over Darroch will blow a chill wind across Britain’s embassies in the Middle East

Just for a moment, let’s forget poor old Kim Darroch. Let’s jump a couple of days in front of this news story. Let me tell you how his utter humiliation and sacrifice at the hands of Trump – and with the connivance of the man who will probably be the next British prime minister – will affect the Middle East.

Let’s go first to Riyadh where, just off Al Khawabi street, stands the British embassy, wherein labours Simon Collis, our man in Saudi Arabia. He’s previously served in Bahrain, Tunis, Amman, Dubai, Qatar, Damascus and Baghdad. In other words, he’s an old Arab hand. He’s also a Muslim convert and the first British ambassador to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.

But right now, Collis is going to be thinking very carefully when he reports back to the Foreign Office about the Kingdom upon which he must report fully, fairly and truthfully for his government. For all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten his reputation if The Leaker gets his hands on the diplomatic bag from Riyadh.

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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Europe, Middle East


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Morsi’s death marks the demise of Egyptian democracy too

Mohamed Morsi’s death was utterly predictable, truly outrageous and, in my view, arguably a case of murder.

To me, when you die in a dictator’s prison – even if you are not Egypt’s only elected president – then you are, in some sense, murdered. It doesn’t matter if it’s the solitary confinement, the lack of medical treatment or the isolation. It is of no relevance that the court is unfair, the charges frivolous, the sentence mortifying. A prisoner residing in such circumstances awaits death every day, unless the gates open, which they were never going to do for President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt.

I use his official title because a president overthrown in a military coup remains an elected president. Just as the man who staged the coup must now also be called President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. The first title represents honour. The second title represents reality.

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Posted by on July 18, 2019 in Africa



The West is silent over the death of former Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi

Ye Gods, how brave was our response to the outrageous death-in-a-cage of Mohamed Morsi. It is perhaps a little tiresome to repeat all the words of regret and mourning, of revulsion and horror, of eardrum-busting condemnation pouring forth about the death of Egypt’s only elected president in his Cairo courtroom this week. From Downing Street and from the White House, from the German Chancellery to the Elysee – and let us not forget the Berlaymont – our statesmen and women did us proud. Wearying it would be indeed to dwell upon their remorse and protests at Morsi’s death.

For it was absolutely non-existent: zilch; silence; not a mutter; not a bird’s twitter – or a mad president’s Twitter, for that matter – or even the most casual, offhand word of regret. Those who claim to represent us were mute, speechless, as sound-proofed as Morsi was in his courtroom cage and as silent as he is now in his Cairo grave.

It was as if Morsi never lived, as if his few months in power never existed – which is pretty much what Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, his nemesis and ex-gaoler, wants the history books to say.

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Posted by on July 18, 2019 in Africa



La lenta esecuzione di Mohamed Morsi

Mohamed Morsi è stato il primo presidente democraticamente eletto dell’Egitto post rivoluzione. La sua presidenza, cominciata nel 2012, è durata poco più di un anno, interrotta dal golpe militare orchestrato dall’attuale presidente Abdel Fattah al Sisi nel giugno del 2013. Morsi è stato accusato di spionaggio per l’Iran, il Qatar e Hamas, di insulto all’autorità giudiziaria, nonché di organizzazione di attacchi terroristici. Dopo sette anni di prigione in stretto isolamento per 23 ore al giorno, è morto la sera del 17 giugno in tribunale. Aveva 67 anni, era diabetico e non ha mai avuto cure adeguate. In sette anni ha potuto ricevere solo quattro visite dai familiari.

Nel 2017 un articolo di Peter Oborne sul Middle East Eye intitolato “Morsi potrebbe morire in una prigione egiziana” avvertiva: “L’ex presidente sviene frequentemente ed è entrato due volte in coma. La sua salute è seriamente deteriorata e mi dicono che ci sono tutte le ragioni di temere per la sua vita. La settimana scorsa la sua famiglia ha potuto visitarlo per la prima volta dopo quattro anni e sono rimasti scioccati da quello che hanno visto – come dovremmo esserlo tutti”.

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Posted by on July 18, 2019 in Africa



Mohammad Morsi in life and death mirrors wider Arab agonies

The death of former elected President Mohammad Morsi of Egypt should be seen as perhaps the single most iconic moment of modern Arab political history. For he represented everything that is good and bad about political authority and governance in the past century of Arab statehood. Yet his legacy will only be fully clarified in the decades ahead when the fate of the ongoing Arab uprisings also becomes clear.

Not surprisingly, it is in Egypt that his life and death capture the main lines of the modern Arab political struggles for stable statehood and citizenship. Three, in particular, stand out from 1952 until today, and they continue to shape the trajectories of power, the sources of political legitimacy, and the fate of entire societies. These are the rule of the armed forces, the opposition of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, and the counter-revolutionary onslaught of conservative Arab monarchies against democratically-elected governments after the 2011 overthrow of the former Egyptian regime of Hosni Mubarak.

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Posted by on July 12, 2019 in Africa



Bloated bodies in the Nile show Sudan protesters were right to fear the arrival of Saudi and UAE money

The Sudanese democracy demonstrators were the first to protest at Saudi Arabia’s interference in their revolution. We all knew that the Saudis and the Emiratis had been funnelling millions of dollars into the regime of Omar al-Bashir, wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court and now chucked out of power by a Sisi-like military cabal. But it was the sit-in protesters who first thought up the slogan: “We do not want Saudi aid even if we have to eat beans and falafel!”

It was shouted, of course, along with the more familiar chants of ‘revolution of the people”.

Few noticed this little development – save, to give it credit, The Washington Post – but the dozens of waterlogged bodies being dragged from the Nile should focus our attention on the support which the Emiratis and especially the Saudis are now lavishing upon the pseudo-transitional military government in Sudan.

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Posted by on June 11, 2019 in Middle East


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Revolutionaries in the Middle East have learnt crucial lessons since the Arab Spring

Two very different political waves are sweeping through the Middle East and north Africa. Popular protests are overthrowing the leaders of military regimes for the first time since the failed Arab Spring of 2011. At the same time, dictators are seeking to further monopolise power by killing, jailing or intimidating opponents who want personal and national liberty.

Dictators in Sudan and Algeria, who between them had held power for 50 years, were driven from office in the space of a single month in April, though the regimes they headed are still there. The ousting of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, now under arrest, came after 16 weeks of protests. Hundreds of thousands continue to demonstrate, chanting “civilian rule, civilian rule” and “we will remain in the street until power is handed over to civilian authority”. 

The protesters are conscious of one of the “what not to do” lessons of 2011, when mass demonstrations in Egypt got rid of President Hosni Mubarak, only to see him replaced two years later by an even more authoritarian dictatorship led by General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. A referendum is to be held over three days from this Saturday on constitutional amendments that will enable el-Sisi to stay in power until 2030.

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Posted by on April 23, 2019 in Africa


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Ivanka Trump has already told us everything we need to know about The Donald’s meeting with el-Sisi

Ivanka Trump, daughter of the US president and wife of Middle East “expert” Jared Kushner – he who has supposedly produced a Middle East “peace plan” to be revealed after Benjamin Netanyahu wins the Israeli elections – has just given her support to a regime which has locked up women political prisoners, “disappeared” others, and whose army forcibly carried out virginity tests on female protesters during the Tahrir Square revolution. Well, what more do you expect from the Trump menagerie?

Her tweeted praise, encouragement and support went to Egypt – and especially to its president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who gained a presidential victory last year with the support of 97.08 per cent of the Egyptian electorate. Ivanka obviously drew the necessary conclusions: this was a free and fair election and showed only how much President Sisi’s people loved him after his military coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected president in 2013. By extraordinary chance, the very same Sisi (just four days after Ivanka’s tweet) is in Washington today – yes, today: Tuesday – to meet with her father, Donald Trump.

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Posted by on April 10, 2019 in Africa, North America


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