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.

CrisisWatch Egypt

Unchanged Situation

National dialogue set to begin in Oct as govt faced sustained pressure to free political detainees; military and tribal militias continued to confront jihadists in Sinai Peninsula.

Poor human rights record cast shadow on upcoming national dialogue. President Sisi-sponsored dialogue set to start in early Oct after board of trustees 11 Sept announced selection of rapporteurs for dialogue’s three main tracks. Status of political detainees remained sore point. Coalition of opposition parties participating in dialogue Civil Democratic Movement, 7 Sept urged govt to speed up release of prisoners of conscience. Public prosecutor 14 Sept released 46 prisoners, including political activist Haitham Mohamedin and Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed al-Najdi; authorities 17 Sept rearrested civil society activist Sherif el-Ruby, less than two weeks after his release from prison. Meanwhile, group of MPs and other members of ruling party 1 Sept filed lawsuits against independent media outlet Mada Masr journalists after they published article alleging financial violations within party. U.S. 14 Sept announced withholding $130mn – of $300mn conditioned on human rights benchmarks – in military aid to Egypt for second year in a row.

Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate suffered severe blow in North Sinai. Armed forces and Sinai Tribal Union combatants 3 Sept killed at least ten ISIS-affiliated Sinai province (SP) operatives and detained four others in counter-insurgency operations in Jilbana area (north-western Sinai) east of Suez Canal. SP suffered one of most severe blows in recent years when army and tribal fighters 11 Sept killed SP commander Ahmad Suleiman Odeh, alias Al-Shayeb, and his deputy Yunis Salim Salem al-Qaram, alias Abu Osama, at unspecified location in North Sinai. Suspected SP operatives 19 Sept killed prominent Sinai Tribal Union commander, Hamid al-Wat, at or near his home in North Sinai.

Sisi sought external support amid economic crisis. Sisi 13-14 Sept made first visit to Qatar since bilateral relations resumed in 2021; Sisi and Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, signed agreements to boost cooperation. Move appears to be part of Egypt’s efforts to find new investments and foreign support to secure International Monetary Fund loan.

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In The News

31 May 2022
[The war in Ukraine] has exposed once again the fragility of Egypt’s political and economic model. Bloomberg

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa
10 May 2022
Egypt is something of a special case vis-a-vis the West because of both its robust relations with Russia and being a key US partner in the Middle East. The National

Michael Wahid Hanna

Program Director, U.S.
12 Jul 2021
Egypt’s more constructive and pragmatic regional role in recent months has produced good will and breathing space for Cairo, but at root this approach to regional affairs... Politico

Michael Wahid Hanna

Program Director, U.S.
26 Jun 2021
Cairo has been trying to mobilize support for its position on the GERD with the Nile Basin countries for years [...] to exert as much diplomatic pressure as possible on E... Al Monitor

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa
23 Sep 2019
[In Egypt, anti-government] protests have now pierced the ‘wall of fear’ and are a major source of concern for the regime. Twitter

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa
25 Mar 2018
For [the Egyptian government], development and economic growth come after the ISIS problem is resolved, and that is taking much longer than they anticipated. Al Jazeera

Issandr El Amrani

Former Project Director, North Africa

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