U.S. backs brutal Egyptian military regime

Armed to the teeth by the U.S., the Egyptian military regime under General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is brutally attacking not only the conservative Muslim Brotherhood, but also a wide range of progressive groups and individuals, including striking workers, journalists and the Palestinians in Gaza. The U.S. has continued to provide guns and ammunition to the military regime — up to $1.3 billion’s worth annually. (New York Times, Aug. 25)

The Barack Obama administration has not even declared the military takeover in Egypt a coup. Such a declaration would mean a cutoff of the massive weapons assistance that the U.S. provides to Egypt’s military.

Late this spring, thousands of Egyptians poured into the streets to protest the repressive government of President Mohammed Morsi. On July 3, using these protests as a cover, the Egyptian military conducted a coup and overthrew the government, placing Morsi in prison. The new regime declared a “state of emergency,” which permits the military and police to smash all dissension from their iron-fisted rule.

On Aug. 14, police and troops attacked two “camps” of peaceful protesters in Cairo, made up mostly of members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Thousands were killed, and thousands more were arrested. Human Rights Watch described this incident as “the most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history.”

Since then, the regime has cracked down on progressive groups and individuals. In Suez, police and military units broke up a strike of steelworkers, who were demanding more pay, health benefits and the rehiring of a dozen fired workers. The regime charged strike leaders with being “Islamist” and arrested them.

A newspaper supporting the military takeover, Youm El Saba, quoted the regime’s labor minister as blaming the Muslim Brotherhood for inciting strikes in several cities.

Tarek Loubani, a Canadian physician with Palestinian roots, and John Greyson, a progressive Toronto filmmaker, were arrested and held while simply trying to walk back to their Cairo hotel.

Five workers for the religious website Islam Today were arrested for simply calling the military takeover a coup.

In the delta province of Beheira, soldiers shot and killed Tamer Abdel Raouf, the local head of the official newspaper, Al Ahram, at a checkpoint, even though the car bore a press badge from a meeting with the governor. A witness said that Raouf was shot in the head while turning the car slowly, according to a soldier’s instruction. No apology was issued, and the witness himself was arrested by the military regime.

Two prominent members of the “April 6” group, which participated in the “Arab Spring” movement against Mubarak, were arrested for “spying for Western powers to stir unrest in Egypt.” These are the exact same charges that the infamous Mubarak regime used against progressives for opposing his dictatorship.

Prosecutors have even opened an investigation of young protesters calling for the military to remove Morsi. They are being accused of “disturbing the public order” by criticizing the release from prison of the former U.S.-backed dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

In the last month, the Egyptian military has destroyed 150 tunnels that bring much-needed food, construction materials, fuel and medicines into Palestinian Gaza.

Threats from the police and military have been stepped up. Egypt’s Interior Ministry “affirms that it will confront with utmost decisiveness practices such as blocking roads or obstructing traffic.” (Press TV, Sept. 14)

Meanwhile, the military regime is holding secret court hearings for Mubarak, which seemed to be aimed to “vindicate” the former dictator and blame his brutal repression on the Muslim Brotherhood.

The crackdown has reduced the numbers of public demonstrations by the regime’s opponents, but armed resistance to the military junta has broken out in the Sinai and other regions.

Although the U.S. government has criticized the brutality of Egypt’s military government, it is clear that imperialism has no real objection to using the Egyptian military as a battering ram against the people’s uprising that was and is the Arab Spring.

End U.S. military shipments to Egypt now!