Blair appointed as economic advisor to Egypt Sisi

Blair appointed as economic advisor to Egypt Sisi
Thu Jul 3, 2014 10:44:57

Tony Blair has agreed to advise the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came to power in a military coup last year, as part of a program funded by the United Arab Emirates that has promised to deliver huge "business opportunities" to those involved, the Guardian has learned.

The former prime minister, now Middle East peace envoy, who supported the coup against Egypt's elected president Mohamed Morsi, is to give Sisi advice on "economic reform" in collaboration with a UAE-financed taskforce in Cairo – a decision criticized by one former ally.

The UAE taskforce is being run by the management consultancy Strategy&, formerly Booz and Co, now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers, to attract investment into Egypt's crisis-ridden economy at a forthcoming Egypt donors' conference sponsored by the oil-rich UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Blair's decision to become involved in support of the Sisi regime, which is estimated to have killed more than 2,500 protesters and jailed more than 20,000 over the past year, has been attacked.

A former close political associate argued that the ex-prime minister's role in advising the Egyptian regime would cause "terrible damage to him, the rest of us and New Labour's legacy".

The former political associate said a bargain had been struck. "Tony Blair has become Sisi's éminence grise and is working on the economic plan that the UAE is paying for. For him, it combines both an existential battle against Islamism and mouth-watering business opportunities in return for the kind of persuasive advocacy he provided George Bush over Iraq."

"It's a very lucrative business model," the associate added, "but he shouldn't be doing it. He's putting himself in hock to a regime that imprisons journalists. He's digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself and everyone associated with him."

Alastair Campbell, Blair's former press secretary who resigned in 2003 over the Iraq war "dodgy dossier" scandal, is also advising the Sisi government on its public image and being paid for it – though he refused to say if he had been working with Strategy&.

Some observers argue that the UAE-funded Egyptian taskforce in Cairo now forms a shadow government within the government. Since standing down as prime minister in 2007, Blair and his companies have been awarded a string of multimillion consultancy contracts with private corporations, dictatorships and repressive regimes, including Kazakhstan, Kuwait, the UAE and Colombia.

They include a contract worth more than £1m a year to advise the UAE's Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala. But his involvement with the Egyptian dictatorship is likely to be his most controversial.


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