Egyptian President Abdel al-Sisi has visited Vladimir Putin in Russia, seeking to build closer relations with the Russian dictator and his authoritarian state.
As two authoritarian leaders they have a lot in common, including a willingness to trample on human rights and the rule of law whenever they think it will help them achieve their ends.
In Egypt, al-Sisi while mouthing the words of a democratic song, has reportedly been conducting a “dirty war” like the one in Chile under Augusto Pinochet in the 1970’s, with perceived opponents simply “disappearing” from the streets or suffering other dark fates.
Nonetheless, Angela Merkel of Germany and the U.S., like others, have embraced al-Sisi either to clinch business deals or to join cause with him in his war against the Muslim Brotherhood (a non-violent group until 2012) and jihadist terrorist groups in the region.
In Egypt, the results to date have not been encouragng, with a sharp increase in terrorist activity both in the Sinai and in Cairo and the heart of the country itself.
To be sure, to their credit, Egyptian religious leaders at al-Azhar University in Cairo have taken the lead in denouncing the distorted theology of the Islamic State and adopting measures to counter its influence, by refuting its theological bases within the framework of Islam. Al-Azhar University represents the highest religious authority within Sunni Islam.
(1) Daniel Steinvorth, “Ägpytisch-russische Beziehungen: Sisi sucht die Nähe zu Putin; So richtig warm geworden ist der Westen bisher nicht mit Ägyptens Präsident Sisi. Umso freundlicher empfängt Russlands Staatschef Putin den Ex-General aus Kairo, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, 26. August 2015 (21:04 Uhr).
(2) Martin Gehlen, “ÄGYPTEN: Schmutziger Krieg gegen die Jugend: In Ägypten verschwinden junge Oppositionelle. Sie werden von der Staatssicherheit entführt, manche ermordet wie zu Zeiten der Militärdiktatur in Chile, Die Zeit, 22. Juni 2015 (15:02 Uhr).
(3) “REPRRISE: ‘The League of Authoritarian States’—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #50,” The Trenchant Observer, July 19, 2012 (first published June 9, 2012).
They justify their actions by reference to the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of any state, as guaranteed in the U.N. Charter.
They ignore, however, that in the 21st century “sovereignty” does not include the right to commit genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, or even the violation of other fundamental human rights. The growth and development of international law has led to treaties and state practice interpreting international law that limit the sovereignty of a nation to undertake acts such as those referred to above.
No Dictator, no authoritarian regime, has that right.
The battle is joined, between the international community which supports human rights and international law, including international criminal law, on the one hand, and the League of Authoritarian States, on the other, whose members believe a Dictator should have such a “right”, and who are willing to block the effective responses of the international community by vetoing resolutions in the Security Council.
Undoubtedly other governments will join the League of Authoritarian States, in order to protect their own ability to use terror including war crimes and crimes against humanity to retain their hold on power.
One fundamental question remains: Can you effectively defend civilization against barbarians by undertaking or endorsing actions which violate its most fundamental norms, including respect for human rights and the rule of law?
The Trenchant Observer