Cross-posted from Truthdig
John Kerry was doing his best "Casablanca" impersonation, pretending to be police Capt. Renault and was just shocked that Egypt is still a brutal military dictatorship despite our newly revived "historic partnership."
A day after chatting it up in Cairo on Sunday with now-elected dictator Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who, Kerry assured the world, "gave me a very strong sense of his commitment (to) a re-evaluation of human rights legislation (and) a re-evaluation of the judicial process," the secretary of state felt compelled to release a statement condemning that process.
Although the U.S. government has managed to overlook the Egyptian military's brutal destruction of the Arab world's most significant attempt at accommodating religious, ethnic and tribal differences through representative government, the stiff sentences meted out Monday to three Al-Jazeera journalists, all veterans of Western news organizations, have finally shocked the media establishment. They also embarrassed Kerry, who had come to Cairo to curry favor with the military dictatorship. The State Department released the following statement of condemnation under his name:
"Today's conviction and chilling, draconian sentences by the Cairo Criminal Court of three Al Jazeera journalists and 15 others in a trial that lacked many fundamental norms of due process is a deeply disturbing set-back to Egypt's transition. Injustices like these simply cannot stand if Egypt is to move forward in the way that President al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Shoukry told me yesterday that they aspire to see their country advance."
That was followed with some human rights blather by Kerry that the various military juntas that have run Egypt into the ground for more than half a century have systematically ignored. One can only imagine the depth of fear experienced by the Egyptian leadership when Kerry registered his disapproval of the court decision: "When I heard the verdict today I was so concerned about it, frankly, disappointed in it, that I immediately picked up the telephone and talked to the foreign minister of Egypt and registered our serious displeasure at this kind of verdict," he told reporters in Baghdad.