Since a July 2013 military coup, Egypt has sought to reassert state authority undermined by the 2011 uprising at the expense of political inclusion, especially of the Muslim Brotherhood. The resulting polarisation has encouraged mounting political violence from the Islamic State (ISIS) and other violent groups, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula where a low-level insurgency has raged. In the Nile Valley, in 2017, ISIS has targeted the Coptic Christian minority, while al-Qaeda affiliates and other groups tied to the Brotherhood have targeted security forces. Crisis Group is urging the government to be more inclusive and address widespread violations of human and political rights, especially ahead of presidential elections scheduled for May 2018, to better address security and economic challenges.
As war rages in Gaza, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to escalate, causing grievous harm to civilians and threatening stability across the Middle East. Crisis Group experts offer a 360-degree view of how various capitals in the region view this crisis and their own interests therein.
Cairo engaged in mediation efforts to stop escalation of violence in Gaza Strip; President Sisi announced re-election bid.
Authorities took steps to stem fallout from Israel-Hamas war. Egyptian policeman 8 Oct killed two Israeli tourists and their Egyptian guide in Alexandria city one day after Hamas launched attack against Israel (see Israel/Palestine), fuelling fears in Cairo of possible “imitation effect”. As Israel in following days laid siege to Gaza Strip and launched airstrikes on enclave ahead of ground offensive, Sisi engaged in diplomatic efforts to pre-empt potential repercussions of Israel-Hamas war for Egypt, including mass influx of refugees from Gaza into Sinai Peninsula and reactivation of jihadist networks. Cairo 19 Oct announced agreement with Israel for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza Strip through Rafah border crossing, and some aid 21 Oct started flowing. Cairo 21 Oct also hosted peace summit to push for ceasefire, but conference ended without breakthrough.
Presidential hopeful forced to withdraw amid harassment by authorities. Sisi 2 Oct confirmed third term bid. Authorities continued to press ahead with organisation of presidential election in December, making it virtually impossible for opposition candidates to challenge incumbent. Prominent presidential hopeful, Ahmed Tantawi, 13 Oct said he had not reached 25,000 individual endorsements required to stand in election, after authorities deployed series of measures to block his supporters, including intimidation, arrests and hacking of phones. Tantawi’s withdrawal leaves only four candidates in presidential race, including Sisi.
Authorities displayed confidence that they can extract concessions from IMF. After authorities late Sept announced that International Monetary Fund (IMF) had accepted to merge first and second review of Egypt’s economic reform program, Bloomberg 13 Oct reported that Egypt is seeking to boost IMF loan from current $3bn to $5bn. Meanwhile, anti-govt demonstrations 3 Oct broke out in Marsa Matrouh town on Mediterranean coast amid deteriorating socio-economic conditions; police reportedly detained dozens of protesters.
This week on The Horn, Alan talks with Michael Wahid Hanna, Crisis Group’s U.S. Program director, about the role of Egypt in Sudan’s war and how it might shape future relations between the two neighbouring countries and Cairo’s regional diplomacy.
Egypt faces an economic crisis that risks fuelling unrest. The International Monetary Fund demands reforms in return for loans, while the authorities seek to broaden their base through a much-criticised national dialogue. Foreign partners should cautiously support this balancing act to enhance the country’s stability.
The conflict in Egypt’s Sinai offers insights into U.S. foreign policy priorities. As part of our series The Legacy of 9/11 and the “War on Terror”, Michael Wahid Hanna argues Cairo has used the jihadist spectre to scare off critics and keep U.S. military aid flowing.
This week on The Horn, Alan and William Davison, Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, discuss Ethiopia's plans to start filling the massive dam it is building, including the complex dynamics at play, negotiations, and the parties' various concerns.
With rains swelling the Blue Nile, Ethiopia is just weeks away from beginning to fill the massive dam it is building. Egypt and Sudan demand that it not do so without an agreement. All three countries urgently need to make concessions for a deal.
Ethiopia and Egypt are in a heated standoff over a dam the former is building on the Blue Nile. To buy time for reaching a comprehensive settlement, the parties should agree on an interim fix covering the first two years of filling the dam’s reservoir.
In this episode of The Horn, Alan Boswell is joined by Harry Verhoeven, a leading academic expert on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to discuss everything from the politicisation of the dam to environmental sustainability and agricultural productivity in the Nile Basin.
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