Shadowy backers of the Egyptian armed forces

By Ben White
October 28, 2013

In late September, retired senior US military officials were part of a delegation that went to Egypt on a visit organised by Virginia-based think tank the Westminster Institute (WI), returning to Washington DC to hail the Egyptian military's intervention and deny there had been a coup.

Delegates, many linked to conservative think tanks and Christian organisations, spent two days conducting various meetings, including a two hour-long audience with Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi (an Egyptian General who has been Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, as well as Minister of Defence, since 12 August 2012), as well as Amr Moussa, Tamarod leaders, Coptic Church head Pope Tawadros II, and "local businessmen".

The post-trip press conference was held at the Press Club in DC, where delegates expressed excitement and enthusiasm about the military takeover, with one participant hailing Al-Sisi as "almost Washingtonian". The WI delegation urged the US administration to fully support the Egyptian military so as not to lose a crucial American ally in the region.

Yet in August, Human Rights Watch condemned Egyptian security forces' "rapid and massive use of lethal force to disperse sit-ins", which the international organisation called "the most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history".

In October, Amnesty International cited "excessive and unwarranted lethal force" by security forces. More than 1,000 people have been killed in the military crackdown, with some 2,000 detained.

The WI delegation was co-led by retired Major General Paul Vallely and Patrick Sookhdeo, Chairman of the Board of the WI and International Director of UK-based Christian charity Barnabas Fund.

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(c) Ben White is a journalist, writer and researcher. His books include Palestinians in Israel and Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide. White's articles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Middle East, and Christian-Muslim relations have appeared in a wide variety of media outlets, including Ekklesia. Visit his website at

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