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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

Govt scored major victory against jihadist group amid persistent vio-lence in Sinai, and U.S. decided to withhold part of military aid over human rights concerns. After opponent in exile Mohamed Ali late-Aug urged Egyptians to take to streets against President Sisi on second anniversary of 20 Sept 2019 anti-regime protests, authorities reportedly placed country on high alert; streets 20 Sept remained quiet amid enhanced security presence notably in capital Cairo. In Sinai Peninsula, suspected Islamic State-affiliated Sinai Province (SP) 2-3 Sept abducted eight civilians; army four days later released them. Two IEDs reportedly activated early Sept against army vehicles west of Rafah town and south of Sheikh Zuweid town. In highest-profile defection since insurgency began in 2011, top SP official Mohamed Saad Kamel, also known as Abu Hamza al-Qadi, 10 Sept surrendered to govt-linked tribal union. NGO Human Rights Watch 7 Sept accused security forces of having killed dozens of suspected “terrorists” in extrajudicial executions in recent years, including in North Sinai; called on international partners to halt weapons transfers to Egypt and to impose sanctions against security agencies and officials responsible for abuses. In unprecedented step, U.S. State Dept 14 Sept said U.S. administration will withhold $130mn out of its annual $300mn in military aid to Egypt until Cairo takes specific steps to improve human rights record; group of 19 human rights groups, which had called on U.S. to block entire $300mn, same day decried decision as “terrible blow” to Washington’s commitment to “human rights first” foreign policy. Delegations of Egyptian and Turkish diplomats 7-8 Sept held second round of discussions in Turkey’s capital Ankara with view to normalising relations; both sides pledged further talks to address divergences.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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 is reflective of Egypt’s own self-interests and not a byproduct of its relationship with the United States. 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 Ethiopia to force it to make concessions [on negotiations]. 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
8 Mar 2018
While [Sudan] wants to show [its] independence from Egypt on the diplomatic front, [it] can’t afford to have a more powerful enemy, such as Egypt, that can affect [its] relationship with the Gulf states. MadaMasr

Magnus Taylor

Former Analyst, Horn of Africa
26 Feb 2018
What you are seeing [among the nations along the Nile] is a proxy conflict of who should be the regional hegemon, Egypt or Ethiopia. The Daily Free Press

Rashid Abdi

Former Project Director, Horn of Africa

Latest Updates

Podcast / Africa

The Horn: As Rains Begin, Crisis Looms over the Nile Dam

The Horn of Africa faces myriad crises. Beyond the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19 on politics and the economy, the region is grappling with deeply troubled transitions, cross-border jihadism and remains a playground for great power competition. In this Episode, Host Alan Boswell 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' varius concerns.

Video / Africa

Reducing tensions as Ethiopia Moves to Fill its Blue Nile Dam

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.

Podcast / Africa

The Dangers of Deadlock in the Nile Dam Talks

The Horn of Africa faces myriad crises. Beyond the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19 on politics and the economy, the region is grappling with deeply troubled transitions, cross-border jihadism and remains a playground for great power competition. In this episode, 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.

Commentary / Africa

Calming the Choppy Nile Dam Talks

Egypt and Ethiopia are exchanging harsh words over the dam the latter is building on the Blue Nile. At issue is how fast the Horn nation will fill its reservoir once construction is complete. The two countries’ leaders should cool the rhetoric and seek compromise.

Report / Africa

Bridging the Gap in the Nile Waters Dispute

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.

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