The Egyptian government canceled a contract with a top US lobbying firm days after the American broadcaster CBS grilled Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi about his human rights record, a report has revealed.
According to Al-Monitor, which has reviewed leaked files, a contract worth $2m annually between the Glover Park Group and the Egyptian embassy in Washington was terminated on 15 January, but the reason for termination remains unclear.
It is worth to mention that the firm, which started working for Egypt in 2013 following al-Sisi’s military coup against his predecessor, had been paid by the UAE for its Egypt lobbying activities, as published by the Intercept.
In 2013, Al-Sisi, who was the chief general of the Egyptian army, led a bloody coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi. The UAE and Saudi Arabia were chief backers of the military takeover, pouring billions of dollars in support to al-Sisi.
The split came just nine days after CBS aired a testy “60 Minutes” interview in which the Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appeared surprised by tough questions about political prisoners and the 2015 massacre of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo’s Rabaa Square. The interview also touched on Cairo’s close military cooperation with Israel, a taboo subject in Egypt.
Human Rights Watch estimates that Egypt has detained at least 60,000 political prisoners under Sisi’s rule.
Moreover, HRW has issued several damning reports about Egypt in recent years, including one that called for an investigation into Sisi’s role in the 2013 mass killings of more than 1,000 protesters in what “probably amounts to crimes against humanity.”
“Glover Park was hired to help Al-Sisi make good on his promise to stabilize Egypt. They produced some glossy brochures that showed that,”said Sarah Margon, HRW’s Washington chief.
“Things have gone from very bad to a whole lot worse, since he took office.”
According to a statement by CBS, the Sisi government unsuccessfully attempted to block the airing of the interview. The Egyptian ambassador in Washington contacted the 60 Minutes team after the interview to ask them not to air it.
But the channel went ahead and broadcast the interview in which Sisi confirmed his military had the “closest ever” cooperation with Israel, another controversial statement that may have prompted Egypt to try to block the interview.
Questions about Sisi’s crackdown on human rights were also “not the kind of news [Sisi’s] government wanted to broadcast,” according to CBS.
Al-Monitor also mentioned that while the Egyptian Embassy in Washington no longer has any registered foreign agents, Egypt’s Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation retains the services of Hill and Knowlton. Meanwhile, APCO Worldwide and Cassidy and Associates ended their contracts with the country’s General Intelligence Services within days of each other in April 2018, shortly after Sisi won a second term in an election widely seen as undemocratic.