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

Scepticism persisted about Cairo’s ability to make economic reforms and avoid default, while national dialogue kicked off amid harassment of regime critics.

Cairo made limited progress on asset sales. After long stalemate, govt from late April made limited progress in selling state-owned assets, key step in securing foreign revenues and meeting external debt liabilities. Notably, finance ministry 14 May announced sale of 9.5% stake of state-owned Telecom Egypt, which raised around $120mn; how much went to foreign investors remained unclear. Meanwhile, rating agency Fitch 5 May downgraded Egypt’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating from B+ to B. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait 9-10 May addressed parliament on 2023-2024 draft budget, which allocates 56% of total spending to debt servicing and anticipates that new borrowing will represent 49% of total revenues, suggesting that Cairo expects to meet almost all of its current foreign liabilities through borrowing.

National dialogue kicked off amid opposition mistrust. National dialogue between govt and opposition representatives 14 May began after months-long preparations. Some opposition parties, including Socialist Popular Alliance Party, boycotted dialogue, citing authorities’ failure to meet preconditions, particularly release of political prisoners. Meanwhile, crackdown on dissent continued. Notably, prominent critic of President Sisi, Ahmed Tantawi, who fled country in 2022, delayed return planned for 6 May after authorities 5 May detained several of his relatives and supporters on terrorism-related charges; Tantawi 11 May eventually arrived in Egypt after release of two family members, vowed to run for president in 2024.

Conflict in Sudan led to border chaos. Thousands of people fleeing conflict in Sudan in May reportedly remained stranded for days at Sudan-Egypt border. Sisi 27 May said Egypt has received 150,000 Sudanese citizens since 15 April.

Continue reading

Latest Updates

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.