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.
The conflict in Egypt’s Sinai offers insights into U.S. foreign policy priorities. As part of our series The Legacy of 9/11 and the “War on Terror”, Michael Wahid Hanna argues Cairo has used the jihadist spectre to scare off critics and keep U.S. military aid flowing.
President Sisi continued to push for national dialogue and praised security gains in North Sinai in apparent bid to deflect pressure as economic crisis deepened.
Economy entered unchartered territory as Egyptian pound hit record lows. After govt committed to moving toward flexible exchange rate to secure $3bn loan from International Monetary Fund in Dec, exchange rate from 4 Jan began nosediving from its previous level of EGP24 to $1, temporarily hitting EGP32 to $1 on 11 Jan and subsequently stabilising around EGP30 to $1. Central Bank 16 Jan said adjustment had succeeded in restoring trust, with foreign investors transferring nearly $1bn into Egypt’s foreign exchange market following devaluation. Fitch Ratings agency 18 Jan said move “should have a positive influence” on Egypt’s credit profile but warned that “large external financing needs and related policy adjustments still represent important risks”. Govt in Jan also ordered ministries to cut spending for next six months, though health, interior, foreign affairs and defence ministries were exempted.
President Sisi-sponsored national dialogue initiative remained stalled. National dialogue Sec Gen Mahmoud Fawzi 16 Jan said official start of dialogue would be announced shortly. Opposition Civil Democratic Movement 20 Jan again urged authorities to release more political prisoners, allow political parties to operate freely, and lift restrictions on media to prepare “suitable climate” for national dialogue. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 30 Jan met with Sisi in capital Cairo, discussed human rights situation among other topics.
High-level officials highlight security gains in Sinai Peninsula. PM Mustafa Madbouly and Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Osama Askar 14-15 Jan made rare visits to North Sinai, said security situation is stable and state institutions fully functional, and paid tribute to soldiers’ efforts against Islamic State-affiliated Sinai Province. Sisi 23 Jan said Egypt “succeeded to a great extent to eliminate terrorism in Sinai”.
[The war in Ukraine] has exposed once again the fragility of Egypt’s political and economic model.
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.
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...
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...
[In Egypt, anti-government] protests have now pierced the ‘wall of fear’ and are a major source of concern for the regime.
For [the Egyptian government], development and economic growth come after the ISIS problem is resolved, and that is taking much longer than they anticipated.
This week on The Horn, Alan 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' various concerns.
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.
Ethiopia and Egypt are in a heated standoff over a dam the former is building on the Blue Nile. To buy time for reaching a comprehensive settlement, the parties should agree on an interim fix covering the first two years of filling the dam’s reservoir.
In this episode of The Horn, 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.
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.
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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