Egypt: Death sentence passed on legitimate President, for a misdemeanour
by Omar Kassem on 21 May 2015 0 Comment

The régime of Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt is in the process of collapse and the life of his prime hostage, kidnapped legitimate President Morsi, is in play. Ever since the total failure on the February 6th call by his media hounds for the Egyptian people to attend another mass rally, in a repeat of the June 30 media fantasy which set out the PR cover for the 3rd July military coup, Sisi has been struggling.


Oligarch Naguib Sawiris had funded the 30th June jamboree (along with Abu Dhabi prince Mohamed bin Zayed), to get rid of Morsi, because Morsi was demanding the payment of substantial overdue back-taxes at the time. Sawiris withdrew the support of his Coptic militias, who could always be relied on by Sisi to rough up the opposition. The reason was that Sisi doubled-crossed Sawiris, when he renewed Morsi’s call for the payment of back-taxes.


The military-security complex also lost the support of the ‘baltagiyya’ or thugs on probation and under police control, who had always represented the hard core of the ‘anti-Morsi’ demonstrators. Vast salary increases for the police force contrasted sharply with the reneging on promises to such dispensable elements. They had become used to making personal fortunes from their appearances as supporters of the régime, and this was no longer to be.


What was worse for Sisi was that all his comrades in blood were aware of the catastrophic implications of the change in régime in Saudi Arabia, after the death of King Abdulla. Not only was Abdulla the principal financial backer of the coup along with Mohamed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi, but Sisi had failed in his conspiracy to re-arrange the Saudi succession to his advantage, thus incurring the ire of the new rulers.


Not only was February 6th a desperate failure, but the Sharm el-Sheikh economic conference on 13th March came and went with the whimper typical of a smoke-and-mirrors circus with no substance. The Egyptian military’s PR agents, Glover Park, managed by Hollywood DC Spin doctor, Martin Feldman, tried to live up to their hilarious “Own the Conversation” ( strap line. Just back from organizing Sisi’s appearance at the Davos conference, they did their best, once again, to woo investors.


John Kerry was at the conference representing the US state department, as were Gulf Arab leaders, apparently doubling-down on their bad investment. Glover Park are being paid $250,000 a month to burnish the image of the Egyptian Junta, which retainer normally doesn’t cover organizing special events. They sought to ‘own the conversation’ here, as they did at Davos, by distracting attention from Egypt’s economy at all costs, given that, right now, it makes Greece look like a Mediterranean Tiger. The investors had to focus instead on the prospect that their cash would be used to crush the will of the Egyptian people. Speakers such as Italy’s third successive unelected prime minister, Matteo Renzi, said to Sisi in the conference “Your war is our war, and your stability is our stability... the issue is not about Egypt or the region only, but also about Italy and the rest of the world.” On message, Sisi increased police wages by yet another 30%, no sooner than the conference ended.


If Sisi’s support base in Egypt was melting away, the stalwart Egyptian judiciary, ever intent on perverting the course of justice and preventing democracy, is nevertheless standing by him. Should there be a prize out there somewhere for the most inbred organization on the planet, the Egyptian ‘nepotism-is-my-middle name’ judiciary, would be the winner by a long shot, ahead of any royal family you can name. It didn’t take long for the judges to disband parliament during Morsi’s presidency, when plans were launched to tighten up on the legal qualifications of judges and impose a retirement age of 65.


The accumulated political prisoner population of up to 42,000 people has provided these judges with the material to work a blackmail scheme with Sisi, to keep him in power. Quite apart from the rampant abuse of this population, selected groups of people with strong connections to the opposition, mainly but not only Muslim Brothers, have been sentenced to death in mass trials devoid of any evidence, or the possibility of representation: 529 people on 23rd March, 683 on 27th April, and 188 on 1st December 2014.


On 11th April this year, the death sentences began to be upheld in the court of appeal, including the death sentence on Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie. The court of appeal didn’t find that accusations of merely being in the environs of a police officer killed during violent demonstrations the least bit odd, where, to boot, police fired on demonstrators with live ammunition. Muslim Brotherhood leaders condemned, like Mohammed Badie, weren’t event there. They were charged with ordering the killings.


The point of these charades was to hold the Sword of Damocles over the heads of leaders of the opposition to quell the endless demonstrations since the military coup, which have clearly undermined Sisi’s rule. The counter-intuitive nature of this policy did not seem to register, even in the light of the increasing number of new groups rejecting the Muslim Brotherhood policy of peaceful protest, who organized specifically to exact revenge on those police units with records of committing atrocities.


Neither did any of this register with those US/ EU apparatchiks who, incredibly, view the bloodthirsty Sisi régime as democracy-in-the making. The first time the Sword was actually to fall, would be on innocent protester Mahmoud Ramadan. He was executed on 7th March, just before the Sharm el-Sheikh investor jamboree, as a warning to potential terrorists, and as sample demonstration of the virility of the régime for the benefit of apparatchiks Kerry, Renzi et al...


The Morsi death sentence


Morsi had already been condemned to 20 years hard labour 20th April, for which there was no basis in fact or law. The complete illegality of Morsi’s original arrest, quite apart from the total disregard for his legal position as democratically elected President, which requires any charges to be brought through a process of impeachment, was highlighted by the fact that even his basic rights as an ordinary citizen were breached. Leaked tapes of conversations between General Mamdouh Shahin, the legal advisor to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Sisi’s office manager Abbas Kamel, and Sisi himself, demonstrated without any shadow of doubt that the charges against Morsi were trumped up.


But despite these revelations, the trial and the sentencing of Morsi went ahead. So, why the additional new death sentence? Why has the Sword of Damocles suddenly, on16th May, been swung over Morsi’s head? Amnesty calls this trial, along with more than 100 others, ‘charade trials’. Morsi is accused of a jail break from Wadi al-Natroun prison on 30th January 2011, during the Egyptian revolution against Mubarak, when prison officers sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood let him and a number of his colleagues go. The offence, under Egyptian law, is a misdemeanour (Arabic: ‘gunha’), it doesn’t carry a sentence even of an extension in the jail term – let alone a sentence of death.


The end game


The failure of the call to mass rallies on 6th February and the subsequent failure of the Sharm el-Sheikh conference on 13th March to magic up the $300 billion Sisi demanded has tightened the noose around his neck.


The economy is in free fall, his generals are in disarray, and the latest $6 billion to arrive isn’t even a gift – unlike the previous Arab Gulf ‘coup fund’ of $59 billion. To Sisi’s dismay, it turned up as a loan subject to a 2.5 % rate of interest. The money is barely enough to cover the expenses of the top generals and judges over the coming months, including the vast medical bills incurred at US and UK hospitals to keep this gerontocracy alive.


CIA director John Brennan visited Sisi on 29th April to stop him invading Libya and taking over the oil fields there. If he truly did this, Brennan has saved the region from a massive new conflagration, potentially much worse than the Yemen War. The oilfields in Libya would, under the control of fools such as Sisi’s entourage, not have fared any better than Egypt’s ‘disappeared‘ gas reserves, and their inevitable confrontation with Libyan rebels would not have succeeded any more than their new war with the tribes in Sinai.


What bodes even worse for Sisi is that Islamic scholars have begun to preach once again against the illegitimacy of his régime at official religious sites in Saudi Arabia, such as the sermon on 15th May, at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. The chickens are coming home to roost.


Sisi has consequently pulled the pin from the grenade. If he executes Morsi, 30 million Upper Egyptians will launch a war against the north, and Egypt will go into total melt-down. Forget using the Suez Canal – shipping will have to start going around the Cape. The waves of Egyptians who will start navigating their way to European shores (are you paying attention Mr Renzi?) will dwarf anything seen so far.


So Messrs Kerry and Renzi – what are you going to do?


Omar Kassem can be reached through his website at; the views expressed are personal

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