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EU says: No to Refugees, Yes to Working with Dictatorships

Sunday afternoon the European Union’s Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Egyptian military dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi signed a 8 billion dollar “aid package”. 

Just a few weeks prior, Egypt had struck a deal with the International Monetary fund for a bailout loan also for 8 billion dollars: “The deal with the IMF was combined with economic reforms that included the flotation of the Egyptian pound and a sharp raising of the main interest rate.”

The EU-Egypt aid package consists of grants and loans over the next three years and formally is set to expand Egypt-EU cooperation. A joint statement read: “The European Union recognizes Egypt as a reliable partner and its unique and vital geostrategic role as a pillar of security, moderation and peace in the Mediterranean, Near East and African region”.

According to the European Commission the deal aims to promote “democracy, fundamental freedoms, human rights, and gender equality.”  What the deal is actually about, becomes clear in the fineprint: keeping refugees out of the EU.

As AP reports

“The EU will provide assistance to Egypt’s government to fortify its borders, especially with Libya, a major transit point for migrants fleeing poverty and conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. The 27-nation bloc will also support the government in hosting Sudanese who have fled nearly a year of fighting between rival generals in their country. Egypt received more than 460,000 Sudanese since April last year.”

The EU has signed similar deals of “restricting migration” with Tunisia and Mauritania. The support of the Libyan coast guard and its human rights violations or the  EU-Turkey deal of 2016 where the EU paid Erdogan 6 billion Euros to keep Syrian refugees out of the EU.

Nine million migrants, mainly from other African nations, are living in Egypt, 480.000 of whom are registered refugees and asylum-seekers with the U.N. refugee agency. 

Because of the serious economic and human rights situation in Egypt, more and more Egyptians are also looking for a way out of the country. Most Egyptians fleeing to Europe reach Italy via the Mediterranean Sea.

Such figures have led the EU to do deals with Egypt in the years before, such as the 80 million Euros given to the Egyptian coast guard by the EU to catch refugees fleeing to Europe.

While the EU currently supports the ongoing genocide in Gaza, the EU simultaneously fears a destabilization of the region that could lead to Palestinians fleeing to Europe. Israel continues to bomb Gaza, which has slaughtered over 30.000 Palestinian men, women and children, while over one million people have sought refuge in Rafah on the border of Egypt. 

The hypocrisy of the EU should come as no surprise. In its imperialist logics, the EU does not come to the only viable solution to stop the ongoing causes of destabilization: end of all economic, political and military support to the settler colony of Israel.

Instead the EU, as it has done before, fortifies its borders to hinder those same refugees fleeing from the bombs that the EU member states themselves have delivered to Israel while simultaneously supporting the brutal military dictatorship of Abdel Fattah el Sisi.  

One of the main EU member states, Germany, has itself increased its arms exports to Israel tenfold last year. Hence the weapons being deployed in the genocide in Gaza come directly from EU member states. 

The German state has reiterated once and again that it stands unconditionally on the side of Israel and that Israel has a right to self-defense. The “collateral damage” of 30,000 plus Palestinians being slaughtered in the genocide of Gaza, seems to be the “price” states like  Germany are willing to pay for their imperialist interests in the region. 

The EU’s economic and political interests are the very foundation of the collaboration with dictatorships like Egypt. The talk of “human rights” is mere lip service, serving as a liberal facade for the brutal policies of “refugee containment” and condoning genocide.