President Sisi exploited insecurity and unrest to intensify repression of opposition and critical media. Parliament 13 June approved transfer of Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia despite widespread criticism, sparking protests across country. Security forces same day arrested seven journalists in Cairo, 15-16 June arrested up to 60 activists nationwide to quell protests. Supreme Constitutional Court 21 June temporarily suspended all rulings by other courts on handover of islands and is set to issue binding ruling on constitutionality of handover 31 July. Sisi 24 June ratified transfer of islands. Supreme Constitutional Court 3 June ruled that articles in controversial “press freedoms law” ratified by Sisi in Dec to establish agencies to monitor independent media were unconstitutional. NGO Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression late June said govt had blocked 114 websites, most news websites since 24 May. Islamist militants and security forces continued to clash in Sinai: alleged Islamic State (ISIS) militants 6 June shot dead two police officers in N Sinai; armed group killed imam in al-Arish city 20 June after holding him for one week. Military 20 June said it had bombed gathering site of Sinai-based Islamist militants, killing twelve; killed three other militants 20 June in Alexandria. Govt 22 June said police had killed seven people in jihadist desert training camp in efforts to track down perpetrators of violence against Christians which left around 100 dead in April-May. Govt 29 June announced up to 55% increase in fuel prices as it cut subsidies in IMF-backed austerity program in exchange for $12bn loan. Country 5 June cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over claims latter has funded terrorist activities, recalling ambassador, blocking access to Egyptian airspace and endorsing list of 59 alleged terrorists Qatar is accused of supporting (see Qatar). Sudanese army 3 June said it had deployed up to 90,000 troops on Sudan/Egypt/Libya border amid continuing spat with Egypt over mutual accusations of supporting armed or jihadist militants.
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.
The [Egyptian] government has faced a serious terrorist threat and received some criticism for its handling of it. The country is clearly less secure, but this is also a result of regional trends.
The deep state is not official institutions rebelling [but] shadowy networks within those institutions, and within business, who are conspiring together and forming parallel state institutions.
The relationship [between Egypt and Saudi Arabia] is based on a kind of asymmetric, passive-aggressive, perpetual renegotiation.
Egypt is primarily seen in Washington as a problem and not as a source of solutions.
Still grappling with its post-2011 turbulence, Egypt's economy and politics require urgent stabilisation. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – First Update early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to balance support for Egypt's economic reform with a strategy that seeks to fix the country's broken political system.
Uncritical engagement with Egypt will not promote European interests, says European Working Group on Egypt ahead of Chancellor Merkel's visit to Cairo.
Originally published in News1