I was unhappy last year when David Cameron went to Tahrir Square to congratulate Egyptians on their courage in the struggle for democracy and yet at the same time he brought along directors of major British arms manufacturers in order to sell arms to the Egyptian military. I thought it was a clear case of profits before principle. Arms that SCAF will no doubt soon use against protesters. Since I left Egypt at the end of March I’ve been writing to British MPs to try to persuade them to reconsider such exports.
Denis MacShane, MP for Rotherham, who has recently taken a high profile stance against human rights abuses in Bahrain, needed little or no persuasion. His undated letter was received this morning but it doesn’t make the usually highly qualified non-committal response typical of most politicians. At least he makes it clear where he stands –
“Clearly arm sales to the region are a major problem as are the export of crowd control material. Britain has a double standard – expressing support for democracy while looking for increased arms sales.”
“I worry more generally that the US and the Western powers want to see the army stay in power.”
However he’s also concerned about the alternative of an Islamist led parliamentary government. I think perhaps he’s a little too pessimistic here as the Muslim Brotherhood covers a really wide spectrum of views and contains many moderates within its ranks. Anyway he writes
“Sadly, the deeply reactionary politics of the Islamists and Salafists which already have destroyed the rights of many women in Egypt is not an alternative. It will be a long slow process as Egypt gets a governance corresponding to the needs and aspirations of its’ people.”
What’s your view ?