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Selling Out: Berlin Sends Wrong Message By Welcoming Sisi

A Commentary By

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been invited to Berlin Zoom
AFP

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been invited to Berlin

The German government is welcoming Egypt's contentious President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during a state visit on Wednesday. By doing so, Berlin is betraying its own values and interests in order to facilitate a multibillion euro business deal.

On Wednesday, the German government is welcoming Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Berlin for an official state visit, despite the fact that he imprisons and tortures critics and even has them killed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) previously stated she would only invite the Egyptian leader after parliamentary elections, which probably would be neither free nor fair. But now he has been invited to Berlin, even without any date in sight for elections. What caused this change of heart?

In March, Egypt's Constitutional Court annulled the country's election law. Sisi invited international investors to Sharm el-Sheikh. German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) then traveled to the country with a delegation of business leaders. At the time, German engineering multinational Siemens signed memorandums of understanding worth up to €10 billion ($11.14 billion) with the Egyptian government. Gabriel then personally delivered to Sisi the chancellor's coveted invitation to visit Berlin.

Legitimizing Sisi

The German government is forfeiting one of its most powerful diplomatic instruments in exchange for a lucrative business deal. By welcoming Sisi in Berlin, the government is now providing him with the international recognition he needs. It is legitimizing a leader who is ruling Egypt more brutally than Hosni Mubarak did.

Merkel's move also provides a green light to the international business community. By supporting the new autocrat, Germany is saying that it is alright to invest in Egypt. It represents a slap in the face to those in Egypt who have fought for democracy. It sends the message that Germany, which once praised you, is now betraying you.

In terms of credibility, influence, decency and prestige, Germany will pay a high price for Sisi's visit that is difficult to measure. It would be in Germany's interest to continue applying pressure to Sisi. Only through negotiation and compromise can Cairo build a better and more stable Egypt.

Merkel Should Use Her Leverage

Sisi is turning Egypt into a mafia-like, secret service state with an unpredictable judiciary that is sentencing hundreds of people within minutes to death. He is fueling Libya's civil war with illegal arms exports. Under his rule, Cairo can no longer be counted on as a mediator between Palestinians and Israelis.

Germany has important leverage it could be using -- for it is Sisi who needs money and recognition from Berlin, not the other way around. Berlin could insist on deeds rather than words. There is a wide spectrum between boycotting Egypt and a normalization of relations.

Instead, it appears the government in Berlin prefers to turn a quick profit in the form of a deal for a German blue chip company worth between €4 and €10 billion, depending on the size of the contract that is signed on Wednesday.

In order to facilitate the export of a German combined-cycle power plant, wind power capacity and a factory to manufacture rotor blades, the German government has sold out its political interests and principles.

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1. Democracy and Human Rights
topking6123 06/03/2015
Germany should have different values than those in the US, UK and other invading thugs, because the German people suffered since the first world war because of their political views. Germany also is not a colonial power in fact it is almost colonised presently by the US and allies. Therefore, it would have been sensible for Germany to reject the visit of a tyrant who came to power through a military coup, killing well over 5 thousand people and persecuting a nation because of the opposition. This mercenary called Sisi has imprisoned well over 100 thousand people, tortured the majority to death or burned them alive to please his sadistic nature with the help of the US, UK and Israeli secret services.
2. Germany and Gen. Sisi
turnipseed 06/03/2015
This article is nonsense! Arabs can only be ruled by strongmen. When we do them in, as in Libya and Iraq, we get chaos. Egypt will prosper under Sisi.
3.
alaa_hammouda 06/03/2015
"he imprisons and tortures critics", where is That? is it professional to mention false info in an essay?? I hope AL jazeera is not your source...
4. Who is kidding who?
Inglenda2 06/03/2015
Does the Author of this article live in a world of dreams? The German government welcomes president Sisi, so what? An official state visit, in this country, has nothing to do with honesty or morals. The fact that he imprisons and tortures critics and even has them killed, can be seen as being little different to that what the leaders of Russia, the USA, Turkey, Israel or north Korea and China also do. The German government (whether CDU or SPD), is known for its ability to avoid moral thought, when given the opportunity to obtain a lucrative business deal. Mrs. Merkel, since leaving her communist orientated background in the GDR, has proved herself to be an expert in capitalism, where the international business community has far more to say than the electorate. The terms credibility, influence, decency and prestige are practically meaninless in a national or international community, which places wealth and position before Human-rights and democratic representation. As for mediation between Palestinians and Israelis, Berlin could never be trusted. By providing weapons to the one-side, while at the same time denying human-rights to the other, Germany has lost any leverage it could have used to work for peace. The German government cannot sell the principles it has never held!
5. Shame on you
Egyptian Patriot 06/03/2015
No you can not say you speak of justice and democracy. it is all about money and price you pay you get.
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