Monthly Archives: October 2016

25 million Egyptians go hungry, and many risk the sea

The Sisi régime is quickly destroying Egypt, turning it into a failed state in a mere 3 years since the coup.

A boat capsized eight miles off the Egyptian coast on 21 September, leaving 204 people drowned, including several children and teenagers. So far, the number of drownings this year surpasses the figure recorded last year of 3,771, until now the highest ever recorded.

27.8 percent of Egyptian population lives below poverty line: CAPMAS

Egypt’s official statistics agency said on Tuesday that the Egyptian poverty line stands at an income of LE5,787.9 annually and LE482 monthly, 48 per cent higher than in 2012/2013.

About 27.8 per cent of the Egyptian population is currently living below the poverty line, according to a Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) survey addressing income and expenditures in 2015.

The poverty line is defined as the minimum income deemed adequate for an individual to meet his basic needs. The poverty line in Egypt differs from one area to another depending on the cost of living in each area.

The Egyptian poverty line was raised from LE326 monthly in the 2012/2013 survey to LE482 in 2015, an increase of 48 per cent, said Professor of Statistics at Cairo University Heba al-Laithy who took part in preparing the CAPMAS survey.

The annual rate of inflation in consumer prices reached 14.8 per cent in June.

The data from the survey indicates that 2015 saw the highest poverty levels since 2000. Poverty rates have hiked to 27.8 per cent in 2015 compared to 26.3 per cent in 2012/2013 and 25.2 per cent in 2010/2011.

The current poverty line means that a family made up of 5 individuals needs LE2,372 monthly to float above the line.

Laithy believes there is a direct correlation between the increase in family members and the vulnerability to poverty. That is in addition to the role played by illiteracy. She said that “the illiterate are usually the poorest.”

She added that “Across all age groups, the poor are less likely to enroll in education, which means that poverty is inherited and the poor will remain poor. However quality education is able to eject citizens from poverty.”

The increase in food prices also contributed to an increase in poverty rates, according to the professor.

The CAPMAS survey pointed out that the urban population is richer than the rural one but the former suffers higher levels of income inequality.

Rural areas, on the other hand, witnessed increased levels of inequality and poverty during the past two years compared to the urban areas where inequality levels decreased and poverty levels stabilised.

Higher poverty levels were seen in the rural areas of Upper Egypt where poverty reached 56.7 per cent, while the poverty level in lower Egypt was recorded at 19.7 per cent.

The governorates of Assiut and Sohag ranked the highest in terms of poverty levels at a rate of 66 per cent. Poverty in Cairo, on the other hand, reached 18 per cent of its inhabitants.

The survey’s results signified that food subsidies protected 4.6 per cent of Egyptians from falling below the poverty line, according to the data.

The results also indicated that 77 per cent of the 10 per cent of Egyptians with the highest spending used subsidy cards in 2015. This is more than previous years, which shows inefficiency in Egypt’s subsidy system supposedly tailored to benefit lower income groups.

Mainstream German media is not only biased but tightly controlled

A German undercover journalist enrolled as an intern at the RT Deutsch studio to spy on “Putin’s propaganda broadcaster,” but things didn’t exactly go as planned. After just two days, the man began to question the mainstream media bias – and his own worldview. Read full article here.

This follows the disclosure in February 2016 by retired head of the popular German broadcaster ZDF, Dr Wolfgang Herles, that the network and other German media outlets take orders from the government on what, and what not, to report.

Harald Schumann, formerly a journalist for Der Spiegel also admitted in an interview that he had been de facto censored when he worked for the publication, criticizing the lack of freedom of the press in Germany.

Earlier in 2014, Udo Ulfkotte,  a former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, had explained in an interview how he and fellow journalists across different newspapers were bribed and controlled by intelligence agencies. Ulfkotte’s sensational German book on the subject, ‘Gekaufte Journalisten’ has recently been translated and published in English as ‘Journalists for Sale’.

Wikileaks: the Podesta emails, part 2

WikiLeaks have released the second batch of emails from the computer of Hillary Clinton presidential campaign chairman John Podesta. The 2,086 emails form a treasure trove of hacked materials of over 50,000 total emails that are placing the Clinton campaign on the back foot. The latest leaks focus prominently on former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea.

The cognitive dissonance between Clinton’s public statements and her private promises to special interests is striking.

See the emails here

Wikileaks proves Syria about Israel and Iran: emails part 1

David Haggith writes

Wikileaks’ exposure of Hillary Clinton’s emails reveals that US intrusion in the Syrian Civil War is really all about Iran and Israel and is part of a masterplan that started with Hillary’s advice to enter the Libyan Civil War. Hillary’s War is another expensive American adventure in nation building as the US inserts itself into another civil war, ostensibly to restrain ISIS (or “ISIL” as the Obama Admin. prefers); but Obama’s manner of fighting this war supports Wikileaks‘ revelation that US involvement is all about regime change.

read full article

HILLARY’S WARS (Pt. 2): Wikileaks Proves Syria about Iran & Israel

 

Hacked Emails Show Clinton Suggesting She Hides Her True Policy Positions From the Public

ِAlexander Reed Kelly writes

Earlier this year, Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times, penned a column for The Guardian titled, “This may shock you: Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest.”

Today, it is clear that this assertion is not true. Thanks to emails hacked allegedly from the account of Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, and published by Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, we read of Clinton telling a group of real estate developers, financiers and property owners in April 2013 that, as a politician, “you need both a public and a private position” on policies.

“Politics is like sausage being made,” she said. “It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least.”

To support her argument in the article, Abramson cited PolitiFact, “a Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking organization,” as giving Clinton “the best truth-telling record of any of the 2016 presidential candidates.” (The political magazine Current Affairs published an excellent critique of PolitiFact’s famed “Truth-O-Meter” this August.) Readers can decide for themselves whether PolitiFact deserves its Pulitzer and Abramson the trust and faith of her audience.

Responding to the leaked comments, Glen Caplin, spokesman for Clinton’s national presidential campaign, said: “We are not going to confirm the authenticity of stolen documents released by Julian Assange [of WikiLeaks] who has made no secret of his desire to damage Hillary Clinton. Guccifer 2.0 has already proven the warnings of top national security officials that documents can be faked as part of a sophisticated Russian misinformation campaign.”

The emails contain excerpts from speeches Clinton gave to major Wall Street banks, including Goldman Sachs. “If genuine,” The Guardian wrote of the documents, “the WikiLeaks emails appear to show Clinton enjoying warm relations with Wall Street and admitting she is ‘far removed’ from ordinary citizens.”

After leaving office as secretary of state in 2013, Clinton embarked on a lucrative career giving speeches to elite banks and other financial institutions. Tax returns show that she charged a minimum of $225,000 per speech.

Read full article here

 

Iraqi parliament deliberates under double occupation

İlnur Çevik writes

Our neighbor Iraq is unfortunately under occupation.

Some parts of Northern Iraq is under the occupation from PKK militants waging a terrorist war against Turkey. The PKK has settled in the Qandil Mountains of northeastern Iraq for decades and no one has been able to dislodge these terrorists. In recent years the PKK has used the pretext of “fighting Daish” to move to the northwestern areas of Sinjar province near the Syrian border.

President of the Iraqi Kurdish Administration (KRG) Masoud Barzani has been raising hell trying to tell the PKK to vacate Sinjar and go back to Qandil but his words have remained in the air. The central government of Iraq, which is supposed to be the sovereign power of Iraq, is completely incapable of even addressing the issue and says “those areas are beyond our control.” So much for Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

But that is not all. The militant force of Daish has carved out nearly half of the country and is controlling Mosul. The areas were left to Daish on a golden plate when the forces of the central government fled the region leaving behind their heavy arms. Now the central government is trying to take back Sunni Mosul with a Shiite army, which is a massive mistake.

To add to the humiliation of the central government in Baghdad and the Iraqi parliament the country has now fallen into the hands of Iran. Iranian generals and revolutionary guards are trying to bolster the Iraqi army but to no avail. The American occupation has been replaced by a de factor Iranian occupation.

Meanwhile the Americans with the pretext of arming and training the Iraqi army have crawled back into Iraq. Yet another occupation.

Now with all these examples on how Iraq’s sovereignty has been and is being violated when the Iraqi parliament comes up with a motion calling on Turkey to withdraw its forces from Iraq it sounds more like a joke rather than a political move that should be taken seriously. The Iraqi parliament should show more concern for the presence of Daish and PKK terrorists on their land than the presence of Turkish soldiers. Our forces are in Iraq to help these people fight Daish.

However, that is not all. The PKK launches terrorist attacks inside Turkey from Iraq and as the Iraqis cannot prevent this then Turkey has to take matters into its own hands. Turkey had to intervene to halt the Daish assault on Iraq and save the occupation of Irbil and Kirkuk. Where was the Iraqi army at the time? Where was the Iraqi parliament at the time?

Now the Iraqi parliament is saying the Turkish forces in Bashiqa and other training camps in Northern Iraq are not welcome. They are being perceived as an occupation force. Yet on Thursday the Kurdish leadership announced that the central government in Iraq was fully informed of the presence of Turkish forces in the region and they did not oppose this at the time.

It is strange that a junior American officer said Turkey is not a part of the coalition against Daish in Iraq and thus its presence is unwanted. The U.S. knows well and appreciates the importance of the Turkish presence in Iraq and knows well what would happen if Turkey were sidelined and allowed events to take their natural course

The Death of Moderation in Egypt: one extrajudicial killing too far

Western media broadcast the statement yesterday from Egypt’s Interior Ministry that Mohamed Kamal and Yasser Shehata, said to be members of the Muslim Brothers ‘armed wing’, were killed in a firefight when police raided their hideout in the southeast of the capital late on Monday.

The problem with that statement was that the night before, the spokesperson for the Muslim Brothers announced on the group’s Facebook page, that Mohamed Kamal had been arrested and taken into custody by Egyptian National Security at the agency’s headquarters in Lazoughly. This agency has been at the centre of a massive programme of ‘disappearances’, highlighted recently in Amnesty’s July 2016 reportOfficially You Do Not Exist’.

In view of this high level of state terrorism currently in Egypt, the official announcement from Muslim Brothers was careful to charge the Egyptian State with responsibility for Mohamed Kamal’s safety. Mekameleen TV anchorman Mohamed Nasir broadcast the Facebook announcement from Turkey to the world, as soon as it appeared. The subsequent Interior Ministry statement consequently fell flat on its face.

But this was no ordinary arrest. Kamal was a member of the Muslim Brothers ‘Guidance Bureau’, a small group of elected leaders who direct the affairs of the organisation. Hence the urgency behind the Mekameleen TV broadcast.

The arrest itself would appear to have been a routine operation. It is well known that Egyptian Military Intelligence personnel operate alongside UAE operatives trained by Israel in the country’s cellphone network control rooms. Arrests are made of targeted figures in order to set off a flurry of related phone calls in reaction, allowing tracers to establish the locations of the arrested person’s contacts. Voice over IP has been disabled in Egypt in order to drive all phone traffic over the cellphone network. Meanwhile, terrestrial phone communication in Egypt has atrophied sharply due to a lack of investment, and the fact that it has always been spied on anyway.

Kamal would not have been legally charged when arrested. The purpose of the arrest was merely to establish his network of contacts.

However, when junta leader Sisi was informed by Military Intelligence (which he used to run and over which he keeps strict personal control) that Kamal was in custody, and that he was being returned to his home, the order came that he should be murdered.

The course of these events resemble those of June 30th 2015 when 13 Muslim Brothers going about their business doing charity work, mainly attending to the needs of families whose breadwinners were being held in jail, were killed. Once again these were described as an ‘armed gang’ who ‘died in a fire fight’: except that the evidence on the corpses, specifically on their fingers, showed that they had been processed through the country’s penitentiary system the night before, and had been brought to the empty apartment where they were found, merely to be set-up and then executed in cold blood.

The death Mohamed Kamal, however, signals a new phase in the escalating violence in the Middle East and in the increasing lack of capacity of European nations to prevent future chaos from invading their shores. I shall come to the reason for this shortly. First, it is instructive to ask why it is that European governments are intent on self-harming.

***

Given that Italy is in the front line of the refugee crisis, it is ironic that it was the very first European nation to formally recognise the blood-soaked Egyptian junta leader. It is even more ironic that the Egyptian National Security Agency committed what has become its internationally most talked-about extrajudicial killing against an Italian citizen: that of Giulio Regeni.

It was all a matter of money and greed. Italy’s ENI had discovered a massive gas find in Egyptian waters, which it was keeping quiet about in the period after the 2011 revolution and during the rule of the legitimately elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi. After the coup, and the formal recognition of its leader, ENI announced the find.

It may seem strange that this couldn’t be done at the time of Mohamed Morsi. However, it is clear that ENI was merely following the hard-nosed approach of British Gas’s negotiating tactics over the West Mediterranean Deep Water concession. The British company was demanding direct ownership over the gas assets and accrual to it of 100% of the profits. It is hardly surprising that Hatem Azzam, secretary-general of the parliamentary industry and energy committee under President Morsi, found that handing over ownership and all the profits on a gas concession to be patently absurd.

The principal cheerleaders and enablers of the 3rd July coup would appear to have been Blair and Britain Inc. This represents the very same agglomeration of interests that perceive a distinct danger in the potential coming to power in Britain of someone like Jeremy Corbyn, with a balanced and pacific approach to the Middle East. These interests not only organised a (now failed) coup to oust him from his position as leader of the opposition, but also scripted the British media’s attacks on him.

The Italians merely followed in the wake of Britain’s rapacious onslaught.

***

More recently, however, British interests have begun to perceive Sisi as a serious risk. His lunatic rule has led to clear signs of a rough ending for the soldier-fantasist. However, if Sisi is proving his staying power, it is largely thanks to France’s intervention and that of François Hollande. Egypt’s recent unusual turn to the French for a series of spectacular arms deals, including the $5.2bn contract for 24 Rafales, the $1.1bn contract for two Mistral amphibious assault ships, and associated helicopters, Gowind corvettes and FREMM frigates, is strange. What is even stranger is that they have all been delivered to the Egyptian Navy. One wonders why.

While the Rafale deal in particular appears to be a reaction to the souring of US-Egyptian relations, from Sisi’s point of view, it has actually more to do with the consolidation of his power in the Egyptian armed forces. Navy leaders are important allies of Sisi. It is under their control, and that of Chief of Naval Forces Osama el-Gindy in particular, that the country’s legitimate President was being held hostage in a hangar close to the Military Academy in the port of Abu Qir. If the hapless politician is being shunted around for security reasons, then this will inevitably be taking place between the various properties (including ships) belonging to the Navy.

Early in 2014, elements of the army attempted to get rid of Sisi, but were overcome. Their eventual trial was covered by journalist Hosam Bahgat, who was to be detained for his trouble. Journalists have been disappeared for much less in Egypt, but Bahgat has long standing links with the US democracy-promotion bureaucracy since 2002, and is an official UN committee member. Ban Ki-moon and the US secured his release. It would seem that events in the Egyptian Armed Forces at the time were troubling the White House.

Sisi consolidated his power by appointing Mahmoud Hegazi, whose daughter Dalia is married to his son, and who had succeeded him as head of military intelligence, in the post of army chief of staff in March 2014. In the move, Sobhy Sedky, who is Minister of Defence which posted acquired a guaranteed eight-year term under ‘Constitution for Everyone Except the Opposition’, was stripped of all effective control over the army.

Mahmoud Hegazi, together with naval chief Osama el-Gindy, are two of the figures who were revealed in the Mekameleen TV leaks, agonizing about how to reorganise Morsi’s incarceration to render it legal under Egyptian law, given that all attempts at charging the country’s freely elected president with various trumped-up charges, had consistently fallen foul at the very first hurdle: namely, that he had technically been kidnapped and been held hostage illegally in a secret unofficial location.

***

But what was Hollande’s purpose in coming to Sisi’s aid?

Basically, Sisi was prepared to help Hollande achieve those projects set in train in 2011 by former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who it was generated the “political momentum” behind United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 on Libya that authorized the defense of civilians in Benghazi with “all necessary measures” by NATO. (Note that it is this UNSC resolution in particular which left Russia feeling betrayed and which drove its officials to respond to Iranian pleas for help to defend Assad in Syria).

The words in quotation marks Above come from the 14 September 2016 UK foreign affairs committee report, which excoriated David Cameron’s slavish following of Sarkozy, who had sought to wage war in Libya in order for France to, again in the words of the report, “gain more influence in North Africa” for him to “improve his poll numbers”.

It is worth mentioning that the report laid “ultimate responsibility” for the air assault that led to Gaddafi’s fall and the civil war that followed at Cameron’s door. The ex-British PM having earlier refused entirely to cooperate with the report promptly left public life completely on its publication, to avoid being obliged to answer any questions.

Be that as it may, not only was Sisi prepared to help Hollande complete Sarkozy’s project, but he had the means to do so. Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, Muammar Gaddafi’s cousin and chief aide, had escaped Libyan justice and was living in Cairo under Sisi’s protection. Leaks from Sisi’s office from late 2013 disclosed the sordid details of negotiations with Gaddaf al-Dam, and involving the UAE, for a takeover of the oil ports in Libyan Gulf of Sirte. Not long after that, renegade general Khalifa Haftar’s first “television coup” took place on February 14, 2014 in Tobruk with Egypt’s backing, after considerable shuttling back and forth to Cairo, in a move which wasa surprise to the US’.

The pay-off for Hollande’s efforts, and those of his assorted allies, came as Haftar took control this September of all the oil ports and terminals and the first shipment of oil in two years set sail. Hollande’s pretence that his involvement in Libya is in order to fight DAESH/ISIL, is exactly that – pretence. It is the forces associated with the beleaguered UN-backed government of Fayez al-Sarraj that is doing the fighting against DAESH/ISIL in the city of Sirte, while Haftar’s forces backed by Egypt and Egypt’s UAE handlers actually attacked armed groups in Benghazi that posed a potential threat to oil flows.

Hollande, meanwhile, in a contemporaneous display of astonishing hypocrisy (even for him), attacks the US for its post 9/11 ‘war of terror’, on his Facebook page.

***

If Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen are not enough, Egypt, with twice as many people as those countries combined, promises a doom-laden future for Europe. Mohamed Kamal’s murder will lead to new levels of terrorism and violence on a scale not yet experienced. Perhaps for the brain-dead group-think addicts of US and European bureaucracies, complete unravelling and ultimately disaster are requirements of action.

There are two things about this murder which are different to previous extrajudicial killings: who the person was and the circumstances of his death.

First, this is the first time a member of the Muslim Brothers ‘Guidance Bureau’ has been gunned down in cold blood since Hassan al-Banna was killed in 1949 at the age of 42. The rage on the street is now palpable, but this is a result of a more complex series of events that took place in the ranks of Muslim Brothers this year.

Kamal was 61 and an ear-nose and throat specialist. Essentially a peaceable character, he went about his business without much fuss. However, Kamal became enraged at the policy of the Egyptian Interior Ministry and its thugs at the National Security Agency to abduct and gang rape women, often girls as young as 13, from districts whose populations were known to belong to the opposition. This was done while they were under arrest without charge in police precincts. The purpose was to goad relatives into violent responses that would then enable the police to kill them.

Kamal lobbied the various leaders of the Muslim Brothers for a less passive, more robust, form of resistance. Against the advice of his colleagues he developed a strategy of ‘targeted response’ to pursue acts of revenge directed at police officers involved in illegal and brutal attacks against the population. However, a serious backlash erupted from senior sections of the Muslim Brothers.

A war of words engulfed the movement at the beginning of 2016, with Kamal on the one side, Mahmoud Ezzat, acting head of the movement, and Talaat Fahmy, then spokesman for the movement, on the other, which shook the rank and file. In the face of the current unbelievable repression, the formal unity of the movement had, until then, been considered sacrosanct.

Kamal agreed to stall, and to defer to the judgement of éminences grises within the movement. Iraqi scholar Mohamed Ahmed al-Rashid, who resides in Turkey, was invited to judge between the conflicting parties. His decision, apparently after much soul searching, was that the Muslim Brothers should limit themselves to civil disobedience, and disavow retaliatory measures. Kamal – to the intense disappointment of many of the younger elements – agreed to obey the ruling.

His murder on Sisi’s orders has effectively driven the higher echelons of the Muslim Brothers hierarchy to irrelevance. The young have taken over. All they remember are the years since 2011. Moderation is now officially dead.

If anybody amongst brain-dead group-think addicted US and European apparatchiks have their fingers on the pulse, it is perhaps the British establishment. After considering a number of ways of finessing the incredibly complex task set them by the Brexit referendum, Teresa May’s Tory government, has suddenly decided on a ‘hard Brexit’, irrespective of cost.  The reason: controlling Britain’s borders and managing immigration.

Hungarian leader Victor ‘razor-wire’ Orban, seems to agree with the British, as do almost all other Eastern Europeans, and the German electorate. It is ironic that, irrespective of their Islamophobic bluster, these countries are unlikely, unlike Britain, whose past governments have been major drivers of these developments, to escape the worst ravages of what is to come.

Their discomfort, however, is as nothing compared to Egypt’s prospects of violence and despair, thanks to Europe’s greed and stupidity.