Jun 23 2014
After pleading for the release of three al-Jazeera journalists from prison in Egypt, John Kerry got a slap in the face when they each were given 7-year sentences. Kerry can’t even get one U.S. Marine out of jail in Mexico, why would he think he could get three Muslim Brotherhood spokes-journalists freed?
Guardian Egypt‘s military-dominated government has delivered a humiliating, public slap in the face to John Kerry, the US secretary of state, by sentencing three al-Jazeera journalists to long prison terms only hours after Kerry personally expressed his deep concern about the case in high-level meetings in Cairo. The snub represents a disastrous beginning to Kerry’s already fraught Middle East tour, which took him to Baghdad for crisis talks about the Islamist extremist uprising.
The verdict, by a court responsive to government wishes, will also be seen as a deliberate, crude signal to President Barack Obama, who (wrongly) criticized Egypt’s deteriorating (in Obama’s opinion) human rights record after the former general, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, now president, and the Egyptian Army, on behalf of 33 million Egyptians who took to the streets, ousted former president Mohamed Morsi who tried to impose sharia law and killed a number of protesters. Mohammed Morsi, and thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters remain in jail while more than 1300 have been sentenced to death or life in prison.
ALLEN WEST: “In Egypt, Kerry has sympathetic words for the Muslim Brotherhood. Whose side is he on?”
“We do not share the view of the Egyptian government about links between the Muslim Brothers and terrorist groups like ISIS [the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq]. [Egyptian leaders] need to include, and find ways to reach out to, the Muslim Brothers. … With regard to the challenge that the Muslim Brothers pose, I would characterize it more as a political challenge than a security challenge.”
In what US officials said were “candid” talks with Sisi, Kerry “emphasised our strong support for upholding the universal rights and freedoms of all Egyptians (even Muslim Brotherhood terrorists), including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association”. He noted a number of promises by Egyptian leaders “are yet to be fulfilled”, but added that “the United States remains deeply committed to seeing Egypt succeed.” (What he left out was that the Obama Regime only sees success as an Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood control)
The hollowness of all this careful diplomatic language was exposed for all to see by the court’s verdict. It seems clear now that Kerry was wasting his breath; the sentences were pre-determined, intended as a stark warning to Egyptian and foreign media and as a symbol of the regime’s determination to demonstrate its independence of Washington.
Kerry must now be asking himself whether it was entirely sensible to offer such diplomatic, financial and military support to Sisi unconditionally before their meeting and before the court announced its verdict. This is not the way hard-headed, worldly-wise American secretaries of state, such as Henry Kissinger, George Shultz and James Baker, would have gone about it. All old Middle East hands, they would surely have driven a tougher bargain. On the other hand, they would all probably have placed America’s and Israel’s strategic interest in a strong, stable pro-western Egypt above human rights issues. (Israel is fine with Sisi in power, not so much with Obama)