Egypt: Blood on Blair’s hands as dictator accused of mass murder

Monday, August 18, 2014
Egypt security forces attack the protest camp of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi on August 14 last year.

Former British prime minister, and current United Nations’ Middle East “peace envoy”, Tony Blair has an insatiable appetite for cuddling up to despots and tyrants. This time it is Egypt's dictator, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, responsible for the mass murder of more than 1000 peaceful demonstrators.

The Independent reported on August 12 that Blair's close ties to the Egyptian government were called into question after some of the country's key officials were accused of collaborating in the “widespread and systematic” killings of more than 1000 protesters.

The article said a year-long investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleged that Egyptian security forces “systematically and deliberately” killed large numbers of mainly unarmed demonstrators in August last year.

The protesters had gathered in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo to protest about the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi.

The group said the massacre was as bad as Tiananmen Square and that it “likely amounted to crimes against humanity”. It called for several senior Egyptian officials to be investigated for their role in the incident — including al-Sisi, who was defence minister at the time.

The Independent noted that Blair, as Middle East peace envoy, supported the coup against Morsi and has voiced his support for the new Egyptian government. He is also acting as an informal adviser to al-Sisi on economic reform, it said.

The article quoted Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, as saying: “It's not the first time, and I suppose it may not be the last time, that Tony Blair has been associated with regimes that have a very poor human rights record.

“As a private citizen he's entitled to do business with whatever regime he so likes, but as somebody who's supposed to be a diplomatic envoy … what sort of message does this send out?”

HRW spoke to 122 survivors and witnesses of the Rabaa massacre to compile the report, which concluded that the Egyptian government had ordered the killings. The current administration rejected the findings, accusing the authors of being “biased and unprofessional”.

HRW's executive director Kenneth Roth said: “It is very short-sighted on the part of the major Western governments to believe if they just make nice with al-Sisi's government that somehow this imagined transition to democracy which is repeatedly trumped will somehow come to pass.

“The message sent so far is that Egypt can get away with mass murder.”

Blood is also on the hands of Blair’s partner in war crimes, his former press secretary, Alastair Campbell.

The Daily Mail reported in June: “Victims of last year's military coup in Egypt have accused Tony Blair and his former spin doctor Alastair Campbell of assisting a brutal regime responsible for mass killings, torture and the jailing of thousands of innocent people ...

“'I still have a bullet in my chest,' said Mohamed Tareq, a biology lecturer shot three times while helping victims of a massacre that killed hundreds of protesters. ‘Is this the democracy these people are promoting to the West?’

“Campbell, forced to resign from Downing Street in 2003 after his role in the Iraq War 'dodgy dossier' scandal, has visited the country for talks with al-Sisi's team. Campbell refused to say if he was being paid.

“Diplomatic sources in Cairo say Campbell had lengthy talks with senior aides and politicians on how to defend the coup and its bloody aftermath in the international media ...

“Insiders say the aim is to play down 'regrettable' outrages of the post-coup regime... Former journalist Campbell has admitted discussing 'perceptions in the international media' about Egypt.”

One of the victims of al-Sisi's brutal crackdown on dissent had this to say of Blair and Campbell: “Those who are promoting a regime that is killing, torturing and locking up so many Egyptians have blood on their hands also.”

[Reprinted from Stop the War Coalition.]

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From GLW issue 1021