Analysis

UK ditches democratic sensitivities for Egyptian cash

Putschist general who is now Egypt's president signs multimillion-dollar contracts with UK government

Ahmet Gurhan Kartal   | 21.01.2020
UK ditches democratic sensitivities for Egyptian cash

LONDON

Britain's reserved approach towards Egypt following a bloody coup by General Abdel Fetah al-Sisi in 2013 has certainly changed since the putschists took over the North African country's governance, but as a new decade just started weeks ago, the U.K. has now sealed its endorsement for the coup government with numerous multimillion-dollar deals signed on Monday.

Desperate to make new global connections to minimize the great financial loss that is inevitable when Brexit takes full effect, the U.K. is trying very hard to make new trade deals across the globe at the expense of sensitivities towards basic values, including democracy and human rights.

The Tory government's hysterical constant search for trade income for the post-Brexit future is somewhat reminiscent of the frenzied hunt by the 15th-century shippers for an alternative route to the riches of the Orient and beyond.

Having an obvious and now-certain financial setback after leaving the world's most lucrative economic bloc, the U.K. has made many attempts to expand its economic efficiency across the globe.

A massive trade deal with the U.S., which has been discussed, debated and scrutinized by all political parties since prospects for it emerged shortly after the EU referendum in 2016, remains the greatest deal the U.K. is eyeing.

The latest example for the new motto "we would do anything for a strong U.K." finds life in lucrative deals signed with Egypt under Sisi.

The now very powerful Tory government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has published a series of new deals signed with Egypt during the U.K.-Africa Investment Summit held Monday in London.

The summit invited the Egyptian president alongside leaders from 20 other African countries to serve Britain's desire to expand its economic power.

Johnson's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss made British intentions obvious in a statement.

"Africa represents a huge opportunity for U.K. businesses, so it’s brilliant to see so many British firms paving the way in trading and investing in the region today to drive growth, create jobs and boost vital infrastructure."

However, the biggest deals were agreed, of course, with Egypt, as Bombardier (U.K.'s biggest train makers) signed a £3.18 billion ($4.94 billion) contract for constructing and operating two monorail lines in Cairo, and Rolls Royce sold £50 million worth of aircraft engines. Fashion and homeware retailer Matalan and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline also signed investment deals with Egypt.

Egypt has raised $22 billion for government bonds on the London Stock Exchange, and the U.K. is one of the biggest investors in Egypt, with $48 billion invested across all sectors including oil and gas, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and fast-moving consumer goods according to a statement released by both countries.

Thousands of people in London are protesting against Sisi’s visit to Britain, as he is the architect of one of the bloodiest coups in the last decade.

Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, and hundreds of other members of the Muslim Brotherhood -- the ruling party before the military took over in the 2013 coup -- have been sentenced to death. Morsi collapsed and died in a soundproof cage designed to silence him in an Egyptian courtroom. The 67-year-old leader was lying "slumped on the floor" for more than 20 minutes and was left there by prison guards despite calls for help by other inmates.

Last weekend, an international justice chambers filed a request with British police for Sisi's arrest during his visit to Britain over torture and death allegations against him.

Guernica 37 asked London's Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Command to "commence an investigation into credible allegations of torture made against the Egyptian government and its state organs."

The group said this is a matter that has been taken to UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard for the opening of an inquiry into the death of the late president and his son, Abdullah Morsi.

But the request will probably fall on deaf ears as the crimes had not been committed on U.K. soil and there has not been a UN-led probe into them or any kind of Interpol arrest warrant against Sisi.

William Hague, foreign secretary under British Prime Minister David Cameron, had said following the 2013 coup that the U.K. did "not support military interventions as a way to resolve disputes."

"We always condemn military intervention in democratic systems. What we want and what we support is a democratic future for Egypt," he added.

Boris Johnson is now prepared to give the red carpet treatment to Sisi a day after the summit with African leaders to further improve Britain’s relations with him and his country.

He will not have in mind the bloody coup, allegations of human rights abuses, thousands of people still kept in prisons, or any other allegations pointed at Sisi but the mouth-watering deals in cozy No. 10 Downing Street.

The 15th-century European explorers found the Cape of Good Hope to reach the riches of the Orient, but the U.K.'s endorsement of an anti-democratic power grab in Egypt will certainly give no hope to those who promote democracy across the world.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.