The British government has defended its decision to extend an invitation to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi the day after his administration condemned the ousted leader to death
Ousted Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi reacts as he learns that he will face the death penalty
The British government has defended its decision to invite Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to London the day after his administration condemned the country’s former president to death.
A Cairo court confirmed the sentence against Mohamed Morsi on Tuesday, compounding a far reaching crackdown that has engulfed opposition from the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood to secular grassroots activists.
Egypt’s state news agency reported that Mr Sisi had received the invitation the next day.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters on Thursday that the British government was examining the possibility of a visit from Mr Sisi “later this year” to discuss mutual interests. When pressed on Egypt’s human rights record, she said the meetings would allow British officials to “raise matters of concern”.
The British government backed the pro-democracy uprising that brought Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood to power, even sending Mr Cameron for a stroll around Cairo’s Tahrir Square shorty after it hosted the popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011.
But it grew disillusioned with Mr Morsi’s tenure after before he was overthrown by a military coup in July 2013. Although critical of a state-led massacre the following month, the planning of which Mr Sisi was heavily involved in, the British government has since worked hard to maintain good relations with the Egyptian regime.
A combination of repression and limited economic growth in Egypt has returned a degree of predictability to the relationship, and Mr Sisi’s administration is seen as a key counterterrorism partner for the west as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) metastasizes through the Middle East.
Thursday’s announcement that Mr Sisi may visit London is a reflection of this. But there are concerns that Cairo will view the invitation as a sign that Britain will turn a blind eye to its security apparatus’ worst excesses.
“A failure to speak out will be seen as Britain ditching all talk of human rights and democracy – all the heady rhetoric of 2011,” said Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding. “If Britain is to stand for anything, and not betray those who craved real change in Egypt, Cameron must be clear in public and in private about the need for democracy, rule of law and accountability in Egypt.”
Britain has also been criticised for its business as usual approach with Bahrain. On Tuesday, the Western-backed Gulf kingdom jailed the leader of its constitutional opposition the day after British Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt opened a new naval base there.
(Source / 18.06.2015)