Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

Terrorism & War – Looking Good says Colonel Steve

February 26, 2016


Christopher Lee

27 February 2016. London.

The colonel from the Pentagon looked the part.  Cleaner cut than a saint, with more medal ribbons than a pantomime hero.  He landed in the UK this past week with a word perfect mission.

He had come to to every newspaper and broadcaster that the war on IS (he uses Daesh) is right on schedule and IS/Daesh is taking a beating. He says the US-led coalition is killing terrorists leaders most days. Their bases are taking big hits, the armoured vehicles are been wasted.

Colonel Steve Warren was here to tell us that Daesh was beginning to lose. “We see them in a defensive crouch” he told us. No journalist mentioned that a panther springs from a crouch.

The fact that IS is on a killing high hit and having nauseating fun using beheaded cadavers as road blocks is a side issue for the colonel with a message.  He says we’ve got it wrong.

Who sent the colonel?  Answer: the people who believe that too many media reports from Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Libya are telling a different story.  They are undermining the reports, especially those relayed in Washington, that it is not long now before IS collapses.

About five or six months ago the same US sources were briefing British and French TV and newspaper hacks that ISIS was a second rate bunch of no-hopers that given political guts could be wiped out inside the Christian winter holiday.  The message is dulled. Hence the colonel’s visit. A regional scan shows why. From the Bosphorus to Tripoli via the Gulf there is a tragedy that just a few years back would not have got off the staring block.

The Turks are hitting the Kurds, the Kurds are hitting the Turks.  Sunni and Shia states and peoples are at war face to face or by proxy. The coalition is hymning the Syria ceasefire but the two main teams – IS and Bashar al-Assad are not signatories. IS does not care about a ceasefire.  Assad is bombing rebel backyards and is ready to go the extra 100 meters with I Told You So banners when the ceasefire crumbles. The Russians are happy to help them out.

Across the almost non-existent border in Iraq on Friday about 20 people were killed in a bombing of a Shia mosque (the government is Shia seeking revenge).  Who did it? Surely not IS who is on the run according to the colonel.  Yup.  The very same IS.  Ask the mourners at the Rasul al-Zam mosque.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah are training Houthi rebels to fight in Yemen and the Saudi are looking at target planning into Hezbollah.  Imagine the death toll.  Imagine the knock-on.  Meanwhile the Saudi bombing in Yemen appears as casual as cruelty can be in warfare.   Hitting civilian targets is good terrorist bombing.  It causes confusion and terror.

Before we leave that bit of the dusty world, two pipe bombs were found in Jerusalem at Herod’s Gate. Lots of shooting.  Lots of dying. Also Friday, a prediction that Gaza will be a death bed scene by 2020.  Next door in Egypt, President Sisi is telling his people, do not listen to others.  Just do as I say.

And in Libya, there is a meeting Monday to see if Libya may be split into three. The West recognises one group, detests and will fight the other while everyone will be hit by the third. It is a simple example of bloodbath created when the British, the French and the colonel’s employers go into something blazing saddles without guaranteeing the result they claim to be promising. Other examples? Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan with the dankness of Syrian dead joining the tragic tapestry of failure.

So best the colonel goes home. Best someone who writes the propaganda tours gets to understand that what we call the Middle East is seeking a new identity that is different from the one the West created for it in the 1920s. IS emerged because the Western-led coalition got it wrong.

And, let us hope and those who do these things, let them pray that the crouching IS not about to leap with another Paris.  When a well turned out colonel tells them they are losing, they may just have to prove they are not in the crudest manner.




Christopher Lee

April 12, 2013


Why Egypt’s Morse Can’t Get The Joke

10 April 2013

Have you heard the gag about a revolutionary government that couldn’t get the joke so they arrested the comedian?  If you haven’t, read on and you will and you’d better, because it’s no laughing matter.

There’s a guy here called Bassem Youseff.  Youseff does satire. His problem, or the Muslim Brotherhood’s problem is that he does good satire.  Worse, he does it on TV – show called al-Bernameg – The Programme.

Afficionados of  Orwell’s 1984 will sense the drama in that very ordinary title. It gets worse and worse.  

You see Youseff’s show gets 30 million viewers. That’s big viewing. World networks would love those ratings but world networks would not like to live in the scary post Arab Spring atmosphere that gets 30 million tuning in to the truth – or the nearest they’re likely to get.  Why Bassem Youseff?  He was there in Tahrir Square in 2011.  The people discovered his razor wire humour.  They trust him.  They don’t trust government as they thought they were going to and government does not trust Yuseff and a whole bunch of other people who still taste freedom.

Not surprising then that a couple of weeks back the government prosecutor general, Talaat Abdallah issued an arrest warrant for Youseff. He was taken in a grilled for three hours then let out on bail.  

The point here is that he has a go at officials, clerics and even the President, Mohamed Morsi.  But on Tuesday this week, a Cairo court threw out a case against the TV funny man. The charge was dropped.  The judges behaved like an independent judiciary, the basis for any hope of democracy.  

The government of Morsi doesn’t get it. No smiles. Fury. Morsi’s lot are something of an hostile audience.  But they have a problem: Egyptians have always had a sense of humour – otherwise why build the Sphinx but don’t leave a clue to what she’s smiling at? Mind you, that was old Egypt of amazing technicolor dreamcoat, pyramids and curses.

Bassem Youseff is their Dreamcoat Jospeh; he’s something of a hero.  He’s the only one they’ve got.

But Morsi’s people are really wanting to get the show closed. They want the judges to tear up the licence of the broadcaster, Capital Broadcasting. From this you can get the feeling that there’s more to this crackdown.  It’s not just one man against authority. Mohamed el-Baradi the main opposition leader says its bunker mentality.  The lawyers themselves are next in line. Morsi won’t like that and could go for el-Baredi’s people.

The world human rights systems will start monitoring even more closely what happened to the Egyptian Spring.  Start taking out the media and the judiciary the people will be back in the square. That is about to happen. That’s not at all funny.

Christopher Lee

November 24, 2012


The hope of the people is in an independent judiciary – the first thing Morsi stamped on

23rd November 2012

All last night the protesters stayed on the streets of Egypt. They attacked the Muslim Brotherhood offices here and up the canal coast at Port Said.

Others stoned Muslim Brotherhood worshippers as they left Friday prayers in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. They shouted Morsi is Mubarak. Tucked in his sick-bed, former Egyptian president Hosni Murbarak must have wondered if he is to be stand trial again.  There are Muslims who want his head.

Tens upon tens of thousands set the streets to burn and so to light their rage. President Mohammed Morsi also took to the barricades, his own.

From the friendly-faces rally at his palace, the Egyptian leader promised “freedom and democracy” and that he, Morsi, the champion of Gaza peace deals was indeed Egypt’s guardian of democracy.

The protesters in Tahrir Square read Morsi’s presidential decree that said pronounced his decisions unquestionable – even by the lawmakers and more importantly, the judiciary.

As the Morsi decree was posted world wide, it became crystal clear that the Arab Spring was imperfect.

·      All investigations into the killing of protesters or the use of violence against them will be re-conducted; trials of those accused will be re-held

·      All constitutional declarations, laws and decrees made since Mr Morsi assumed power cannot be appealed or cancelled by any individual, or political or governmental body

·      The public prosecutor will be appointed by the president for a fixed term of four years, and must be aged at least 40

·      The constituent assembly’s timeline for drafting the new constitution has been extended by two months

·      No judicial authority can dissolve the constituent assembly or the upper house of parliament (Shura Council)

·      The president is authorized to take any measures he sees fit in order to preserve the revolution, to preserve national unity or to safeguard national security

For those who feared Islamic domination of the most disagreeable form, the decree laid out their fears.  They never wanted to believe that a Muslim Brotherhood leader would lay down such draconian law as if he were some reincarnation of Gamel Abdul Nasser or a creation of the Supreme Leader of Iran.  The new Pharaoh. Never to be questioned.

To be independently minded or objective is a hard call in today’s Cairo in a country that demanded democracy.  It was silly to believe that the sadness of a middle class youth, educated and out of work, could be given jobs, position and responsibility for their great country’s future. Instead, they must accept that the man elected to lead after Murbarak’s downfall was never going to come quietly.

 The re-holding of trials suggests Morsi’s lot did not like the verdicts and sentences.  No Morsi laws and decrees can be repealed. That is scary on one hand but it is also the dread hand of hard if not strong leadership. A new public prosecutor for four years at a time? An assault on the judiciary but also, a determination that the judiciary does not become over-powerful.  Mursi can do what he likes in the name of his vision of democracy, progress and national unity.

Yet let us all get real and conjure the memory of the early 1950s when the o=colonels took over.  Morsi and Co are the modern religious colonels. It is, after all, pretty standard revolutionary take-over stuff.

What’s surprising is that any one is surprised.

But wait for a moment because the only people really surprised are the European news anchors in the safety of their air-conditioned high-paid studios.  How could this be they ask their correspondents who have been telling them that since June and Morsi’s coming, everyone but everyone here has been waiting for this.

The fooling is in the silly perception of democracy.  You vote someone in so that has to be democracy.  Where does that idea come from? Democracy it is not. If there were jackboots in Egypt, we would have heard them coming.

The next thing to take on board is that this man is now Hilary Clinton’s Newest Best Friend. He’s Number One Regional Gaza Fixer.  They like him in Washington.  They, for the moment, may not like him in Jerusalem but they can do business with him. We all like him for fixing something we’re not even sure was fixed but certainly didn’t want it to go on. Morsi is top man.

So what now? No one outside Egypt will really care a button mushroom to upside down blancmange about the aspirations of the Arab Spring. If the riots get going. We’ll watch from a distance.  If the people of the square get gunned down on the authority of the Morsi Decree we shall then care.

If we want anything to think about while we watch how this plays out, it could be this: the first casualty of revolution is the removal of an independent judiciary. That judiciary is the one hope of a society stripped of everything else.

If the Morsi Decree is as uncompromising as we think it is – and not simply for own Muslim Brotherhood followers – then the judiciary will be stripped of its independence. If that happens, then the Arab Spring will have achieved nothing.