John Rees looks at who is driving prime minister David Cameron's decision to order a security inquiry into the Muslim Brotherhood
David Cameron’s decision to launch a high level security service led inquiry into the Muslim Brotherhood is an astonishing act of complicity with the repressive, military backed government in Egypt.
The inquiry, which could result in the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK, is to be headed by Sir John Jenkins, the former ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The Guardian reported that another key figure in the inquiry is Sir John Sawers. Sawyers is ‘the current chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), who served as UK ambassador to Egypt between 2001-03. Sawers, who had previously served as Tony Blair's foreign affairs adviser in Downing Street, had strong contacts with the regime of the former president Hosni Mubarak.’
The military dominated government of Egypt which mounted the coup against elected Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in July last year has already declared the Brotherhood illegal and dubbed it a terrorist organisation.
This came after the Egyptian army shot dead thousands of Muslim Brotherhood protesters. Since then the crackdown has spread from the Brotherhood to many of the original 25 January revolutionaries. It has been accompanied by widespread show trials and the arrest of journalists, the most well known being the Al Jazeera crew, ludicrously accused of spying.
The El Sisi regime’s repression of the Brotherhood reached new depths last week when an Egyptian court sentenced 529 defendants to death in a trial which the UN described as a ‘mockery of justice’.
Military leader former General (self-promoted to Field Marshall) El Sisi is now running for President of Egypt in a poll due in May.
El Sisi’s military backed government has been supported throughout by Saudi Arabia. The Gulf Kingdom has been the organising centre of counter-revolution in the Middle East. It supplied the forces which invaded Bahrain (at the invitation of the Bahraini royal family), helped co-ordinate Nato intervention in Libya and has backed the forces in Syria which even the West can’t stomach.
The Saudi regime was angered by the UK and US decision not to attack Syria last year and Obama has this week been on a fence-mending visit to the King of Saudi Arabia in which he pointedly never referred to the Saudi’s appalling human rights record in public or in private, an omission for which the US President was savaged by Human Rights Watch. Most recently the Saudi King was exposed on Channel 4 News for imprisoning his own female relatives.
Cameron’s decision to pursue the Muslim Brotherhood is more of the same kow-towing to the Saudis. Of course the Saudi’s are massive purchasers of UK armaments, especially from UK arms manufacturer BAe Systems, who only 6 weeks ago agreed a new deal to sell the Eurofighter to the Kingdom. That deal was signed the day after Prince Charles donned traditional robes and joined Saudi princes in a sword dance in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
This latest incredible decision to allow UK domestic security policy to be driven by the tyrannical King of Saudi Arabia (the only country in the world to be named after the family which runs it) will revive the language of the war on terror, jeopardise the lives of exiled Muslim Brotherhood members in the UK, and heighten Islamophobia.
Already Rupert Murdoch’s Times is telling its credulous readers that ‘The Muslim Brotherhood are thought to be coordinating an international response to attacks on the group from a flat above a disused kebab shop in Cricklewood, northwest London’.
There were many criticisms to be made of the Muslim Brotherhood’s period in power, not least that they compromised too much and too easily with the Egyptian deep state which eventually overthrew them and is now repressing them.
But no democrat, no one who cares about civil liberties, or detests the malign influence of the arms trade, can fail to protest as loudly as possible this latest action by Cameron and his Saudi masters.
Source: Stop the War Coalition
John Rees is a writer, broadcaster and activist, and is one of the organisers of the People’s Assembly. His books include ‘The Algebra of Revolution’, ‘Imperialism and Resistance’, ‘Timelines, A Political History of the Modern World’, ‘The People Demand, A Short History of the Arab Revolutions’ (with Joseph Daher), ‘A People’s History of London’ (with Lindsey German) and The Leveller Revolution. He is co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition.