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.
Parliament 13 Oct extended for three months state of emergency imposed following 9 April bombings against Coptic Christian churches. Under expanded powers govt pursued crackdown on LGBT community begun in Sept; UN 13 Oct condemned crackdown. Militant group known as Hassm, reportedly Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, claimed responsibility for 30 Sept blast near Myanmar embassy in Cairo, reported in media as gas pipe explosion; blast was reportedly failed attack on EU ambassador’s residence. In N Sinai, militants killed six police in ambush near Arish 13 Oct claimed by Islamic State (ISIS). Over 100 militants launched coordinated attacks on five checkpoints in and around Sheikh Zuweid 15 Oct, also claimed by ISIS, killing at least nine security officers. Militants 16 Oct attacked security forces outside unused Coptic Church in Arish causing distraction from bank robbery nearby; robbers killed seven including child and stole EGP17mn (about $1mn). Militants 21 Oct attacked police in al-Wahat around 135km south west of Cairo reportedly killing at least 52 officers, interior ministry acknowledged sixteen fatalities. In reaction to attack, President Sisi 28 Oct instigated high-level security reshuffle, removing Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy and several top interior ministry officials. Security forces 27 Oct killed at least thirteen militants at farm hideout in New Valley province around 400km south west of Cairo. Military 31 Oct said Air Force killed “large number” of militants in separate strike on hideout. Sisi 24 Oct made first visit to France since Macron became president; human rights groups called on France to end “indulgence” toward repression in Egypt.
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.
[Terrorist] attack [in Egypt] places the Ministry of Interior under greater scrutiny, because it appears to have been caught off-guard by the abilities of the militants.
If [the U.S. decision to suspend economic and military aid to Egypt is] intended as a signal to Sisi's regime, it will have limited impact on [his] behaviour.
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