By Arab News
By Linda S. Heard
In February, the EU Parliament voted to ban weapons sales to Saudi Arabia citing the Kingdom’s military operation in Yemen without taking into account that Iranian-backed Houthi rebels not only overthrew the elected-government but also launched cross-border raids into Saudi territory.
The body’s criticisms were solely directed at Riyadh whereas the Saudi ambassador to Brussels pointed out in a letter Houthis had bombed civilians, deployed tanks in heavily populated areas, used child soldiers and had besieged towns leaving citizens without food, water and medicines.
What are they playing at when Saudi Arabia was invited by the legitimate Yemeni president to free his country from a minority of ruthless rag-tags funded by Tehran, which never ceases to boast about Iran’s domination of Arab capitals?
This month, the EU Parliament turned its attention to Egypt, which it has been mercilessly battering ever since the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government. Egypt is battling economic woes in the aftermath of two revolutions. It’s suffering from a dollar crisis and its tourism industry that was on its way to full recovery was ravished by the UK’s bar on flights to Sharm El-Sheikh causing a chain reaction.
Egypt battles terrorism in the northern Sinai Peninsula and is vulnerable to infiltrations by Daesh due to its long porous border with Libya. It has an elected president and a fully-functioning elected Parliament, but in light of so many threats and challenges, the government has no other option than to keep a tight grip until Egypt is well on the road to recovery.
Yet rather than stand with the most-populated Arab country, the EU has passed a resolution condemning Egypt’s “deeply concerning human rights situation” while calling upon its member states to suspend security cooperation and weapons deals. The vote was triggered by the killing of a young Italian man whose body was discovered close to the capital. Without a shred of evidence, the EU has all but accused Egypt’s security forces of the crime. Egypt and Italy are cooperating in the investigation, so why didn’t the EU wait until the facts were known?
If that’s the standard they operate on, they might as well accuse the US of murdering Mikhail Lesin, a close aide and friend of President Putin, found dead in a Washington hotel room showing signs of blunt trauma to his head.
Seems to be the EU needs to take a long hard look in the mirror when several of its member states have chosen to erect fences, which keep out genuine refugees in contravention of treaties and have unilaterally effected measures that fly in the face of the EU’s open borders.
How dare the EU Parliament point fingers over human rights even as tens of thousands men, women and children are subsisting close to Greece’s border with Macedonia. An image of a newborn baby being washed close to muddy ground was shocking as was the Guardian report of a Syrian mother who was bleeding from a caesarean operation, forced to stay with her infant in a two-person tent with her husband and mother. It should be remembered too, that the US in partnership with EU countries are largely responsible for the refugee crisis bearing in mind that a large proportion of asylum seekers are from Afghanistan and Iraq, which bore Daesh.
Moreover, we don’t hear many complaints from the EU centered on US drone attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia that have taken so many civilian lives. And whereas the EU has plenty to say about Egypt’s security forces, there hasn’t been a peep from its parliament on police brutality in the US, where numerous unarmed African-American youths have been shot dead or badly beaten.
No, EU countries are far too busy cuddling up to Iran, signing lucrative deals and feting its president notwithstanding imprisoned Iranian journalists have been denied medical treatment, activists are subjected to kangaroo courts or that 570 prisoners were publicly hanged in the first half of last year many left dangling for all to see off German-made cranes.
On the contrary, the Obama administration has pointedly ignored Iran’s human rights and civil liberties as well as its interference in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain to gain Tehran’s consent to the narrow nuclear deal.
Clearly the EU Parliament is riddled with double standard and hypocrisy. It wields accusations of human rights selectively as a weapon in order to whip states into line with its foreign policy goals and interests. Perhaps it’s time for the Arab world that’s heavily invested in Europe to give the EU a little taste of its own bitter medicine.