An Egyptian judge on Monday sentenced three journalists from the Qatar-sponsored network Al Jazeera to seven to ten years in prison (NYT) for allegedly collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood by fabricating news reports. The verdict, which drew international criticism as prosecutors did not make public any evidence supporting the charges, comes a day after U.S. secretary of state John Kerry stopped in Cairo on a tour of the Middle East, where he expressed support for Egypt's newly installed president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and said Washington would release military aid partially frozen after Egypt's coup (WSJ). The journalists are part of a broader judicial crackdown against dissidents. Rights groups estimate up to four hundred Egyptians have been disappeared, among at least sixteen thousand political prisoners taken since the regime change last summer (Guardian).
"It is easy to paint a picture of a planned organized campaign to repress freedom of speech and press, but is this systematic? It may seem so at first glance, but upon closer look, one discovers that the situation is far pettier than that. What unites these three very different men—Metwally, Fahmy and Youssef—is that they are victims of a state whose different institutions are exercising personal pettiness that is shared by a significant segment of the population. … The scary part of all this is not that the police state is active and is operating efficiently and according to a plan, but that the situation is random and manic, based on personal feelings and likes, and appeals to the angry, insecure and frightened mob to showcase that the state is strong," writes Mahmoud Salem in al-Monitor.
"The present regime of political violence, which began with and remains most fiercely directed against the Muslim Brotherhood, is increasingly focused on silencing all remaining revolutionary voices associated with the January 25-February 11, 2011 uprising. As we have seen in so many other countries, these policies require the demonization of more and more citizens as 'terrorists,' 'traitors' and 'enemies,' against whom all manner of violence and repression are justified. In Egypt as elsewhere the end result of such policies, which have occurred with the acquiescence and even support of Egypt's regional and international allies and patrons, will inevitably be the disintegration of bonds of common citizenship and intensifying of social, political and economic conflict," write academics in an open letter to the Obama administration.
"Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has campaigned on a platform that, vague as it is, seems to rule out inclusiveness. It is not simply his words for the Brotherhood, harsh as they are—he seems to verge on expressing the paternalistic view that he knows Egyptians' needs and therefore will not require a democratic process for them to inform and guide him. Will he reverse himself in office? There will certainly be strong pressures for him to do so. An attempt to turn his popular mandate into a blank check to rule as he sees fit is likely to fail," writes Nathan J. Brown for Al Jazeera.
The United States should partner with Iran and Russia to counter mutual threats in Iraq and Syria, says CFR President Emeritus Leslie Gelb.
SYRIA: TheIsraeli air force struck nine military targets inside Syria (Haaretz), killing ten, according to a Syrian activist group. The strikes were conducted in retaliation for a missile that killed an Israeli teen and wounded three other civilians in the Golan Heights.
Land Mine Treatyís Successes Celebrated at Conference
The U.S. Export-Import Bank's charter may be allowed to expire in September (WSJ) as Congressional Republicans, amid a leadership transition that has laid bare a rift in the party, are divided over the trade agency, which guarantees loans to foreign buyers and insures credit.