Ethiopia is building a mighty dam on the Blue Nile, promising economic benefits for both itself and Sudan. But Egypt fears for its freshwater supply. The parties should agree on how fast to fill the dam’s reservoir and how to share river waters going forward.
Nearly two-and-half years after Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow, Egypt is embarking on a transition in many ways disturbingly like the one it just experienced, only with different actors at the helm and far more fraught and violent.
With Egypt’s presidential election having become a free-for-all, zero-sum game, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) should take a step back and, with the full range of political actors, agree on principles for a genuine and safe political transition.
If Egypt’s popular uprising is to achieve its aspirations for a truly democratic society, street activism will need to be converted into inclusive, institutional politics.
The Society of Muslim Brothers’ success in the November-December 2005 elections for the People’s Assembly sent shockwaves through Egypt’s political system.
Terrorism returned to Egypt in 2004 after an absence of seven years with successive attacks and the emergence of a heretofore unknown movement in Sinai. The government’s reaction essentially has been confined to the security sphere: tracking down and eliminating the terrorists.
Egypt's first multi-candidate presidential election, a response to U.S. pressure, was a false start for reform. Formal pluralism has never seriously limited the dominance of President Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP); extension to the presidential level is a token so long as the opposition is too weak to produce plausible candidates.
Islamism, terrorism, reform: the triangle formed by these three concepts and the complex and changeable realities to which they refer is at the centre of political debate in and about North Africa today.
Important changes in the outlook of Egyptian Islamic activism in recent years have opened up possibilities for progressive political development, but these have gone unexploited because of the conservatism of the Egyptian government's policies.
This briefing is one of a series of occasional ICG briefing papers and reports that will address the issue of political reform in the Middle East and North Africa. The absence of a credible political life in most parts of the region, while not necessarily bound to produce violent conflict, is intimately connected to a host of questions that affect its longer-term stability: