New British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Egypt Crisis

Alex MacDonald writes

Up until April, the UK has primarily focused on economic investment and issues relating to regional security when dealing with Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s government. The government has experienced an overhaul after the June EU referendum, with Theresa May installed as the new prime minister.

Her new foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, on Tuesday stated there was a “burgeoning crisis” in Egypt. Some commentators have suggested that Johnson was confusing Egypt with Turkey in its post-coup instability.

“We have very serious issues before us today we have an unfolding humanitarian crisis in Syria that is getting worse. We have a crisis in Yemen that is intractable and a burgeoning crisis on Egypt, and those are to my mind far more important than any obiter dicta you may have disinterred from 30 years of journalism,” he said in a heated exchange with an American journalist who had taken him to task over his comments referring to US President Barack Obama’s “part-Kenyan” ancestry.

According to the MailOnline, the FCO later said that Johnson had intended to say Egypt, although there was no elaboration on what “crisis” he was referring to in that case.

An FCO spokesperson told MEE that the designation of Egypt as Human Rights Priority Country came “in light of the deterioration in the human rights situation in 2015.”

“The “step-change” referred to in the report was the decision we took to raise Egypt at the UN Human Rights Council session in June,” said the spokesperson. “This decision is commensurate with our growing concern over the human rights situation in Egypt.  New funding has been approved for projects to support human rights in Egypt and work will begin soon.”

The spokesperson also confirmed that Johnson had been referring to Egypt, adding that the “challenges facing the country and the wider region are well known.”

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