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Rabaa to Rafah – Tales of Massacres: Whither Egypt?

As the world reacts with mounting alarm at Benjamin Netanyahu’s declared goal to level Rafah to the ground, the spotlight falls on Egypt.

Will the North African powerhouse stand idly by allowing Israel to intensify its ongoing genocide in Gaza, or make good its threat to annul the “peace treaty”?

Authorities in Cairo would know that plans by Israel to populate Gaza with Jewish settlements, requires Egypt’s collaboration to absorb Palestinian refugees into parts of the Sinai.

What it translates to is that Gaza is ethnically cleansed of 2.3million Palestinians and replaced with a Jewish colony.

However, the sticky point is Rafah, where more than a million and half Palestinians, who were violently forced to evacuate their homes in the North, are huddled in tents and makeshift shelters, facing death from relentless air strikes, hunger and thirst.

In addition, the dire need for medical treatment has reduced Gaza to the worst humanitarian catastrophe the world has ever seen in the modern era.

So how will Egypt respond?

Egypt of today under the repressive military rule of General Abdel Fateh el-Sisi, is a far cry from the revolutionary leadership of Mohamed Morsi.

During the exciting but short-lived era of the Arab Spring, tens of thousands of protesters across Cairo flooded Tahrir Square demanding the removal of Hosni Mubarak from his thirty-year reign.

Following the popular mass-based revolt against his brutal dictatorship, Mubarak was forced to resign. An epic period indeed which saw the country transit from tyranny to democracy when Morsi was elected to lead Egypt in the country’s first free and fair democratic election.

Change of fortunes did not sit well with Western powers who began a series of dirty tricks to oust him, notwithstanding the fact that Morsi had acquired a comfortable majority during elections.

A classic case of regime-change began to be engineered when a number of countries connived to unseat him via a bloody military coup.

America, Israel, UAE and Saudi Arabia’s candidate for regime change was the head of Egypt’s notorious secret service/intelligence unit, el-Sisi who was also in charge of the military.

In an elaborate scheme, a rebellion against Morsi was orchestrated as a prelude to the coup. Reports subsequently revealed that the uprising was funded by the UAE government.

These regimes shared common misgivings about Morsi’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood (Al Ikhwan Al Muslimeen) and were loath to have the Arab world’s most powerful nation-state in the hands of the Ikhwan.

Chatham House reported that recordings leaked from the Egyptian Ministry of Defence and confidential testimony from US officials fingered the UAE as having provided funds to support the activity of Tamarrod, the movement that organized the rebellion against Morsi.

As soon as el-Sisi stepped in to illegally occupy Morsi’s seat, Saudi Arabia and the UAE made no effort to conceal their approval. Both Western-backed oligarchs gleefully displayed their support with transfers of huge chunks of money.

To illustrate the brazeness of the UAE, its Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed led a delegation to Cairo in solidarity with coup leader el-Sisi, less than a fortnight after the horror of the Rabaa Massacre where a thousand people were mowed down.

The background to the massacre is well documented as Al Jazeera reported that tens of thousands of Egyptians were out in the streets and city squares to demand the reinstatement of Morsi.

On August 14, 2013, as the protests had entered their sixth consecutive week, thousands staged a sit-in at the Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, one of Cairo’s busiest thoroughfares, as they had for more than a month.

Sisi’s forces moved in using armoured vehicles and bulldozers, in addition to ground troops and snipers on rooftops carrying live ammunition, to attack the square from all sides and close off safe exits, according to witnesses and human rights organisations, reported Al Jazeera.

Morsi, the elected president gets jailed where he subsequently dies behind bars, while the coup master el-Sisi, is now in power for just over a decade. And to date no accountability for the slaughter of Rabaa protesters.

From Rabaa to Rafah, el-Sisi’s dismal human rights record does not hold any promise that he will  deter Netanyahu’s planned incursion.

Egypt under el-Sisi has been reduced to a mere spectator, observing the slaughter of thousands of innocent Palestinians as the genocide intensifies in Gaza without any effort to flex its muscles.

Iqbal Jassat

Executive Member

Media Review Network


South Africa





Iqbal Jassat