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.
Egypt’s security suffered serious setbacks in 2017 with local jihadist attacks killing hundreds of people. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018, Crisis Group recommends that the EU and its member states urge the Egyptian government to change its approach to counter-terrorism and improve the security for minority groups.
Govt’s 10 May announcement of metro fare hikes by up to 300% triggered days of protests across Cairo that closed several metro stations; security forces 12 May arrested ten demonstrators. Govt stepped up crackdown on critics as President Sisi prepared to be sworn in for second four-year term early June: security forces 5 May arrested blogger Sherif Gaber; 6 May arrested satirist Shady Hussein Abu Zaid; 11 May detained director of Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms Mohamed Lotfy with his wife and son, Lofty and son released but his wife kept in custody with detention renewed 28 May for fifteen days; 15 May arrested leading 2011 activist Shady Ghazaly Harb; 23 May arrested journalist Wael Abbas; 26 May arrested Sisi’s former supporter turned critic, politician Hazem Abdel-Azim; Cairo military court 22 May sentenced journalist Ismail Alexandrani to ten years in prison. State toughened action against Muslim Brotherhood (MB): prosecutor-general 13 May referred 278 defendants to military court on charges of joining banned MB-linked groups Hassm and Liwaa al-Thawra. In operation launched in Sinai in Feb, military 17 May said in past few days it had killed nineteen suspected members of Islamic State (ISIS) Sinai Province and arrested twenty; two soldiers and eight suspected militants killed 29 May. Tripartite negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over Ethiopia’s construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Nile River made no progress 5 May but in Addis Ababa 15 May parties agreed to go ahead with long-delayed joint study of dam.
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.
For [the Egyptian government], development and economic growth come after the ISIS problem is resolved, and that is taking much longer than they anticipated.
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.
What you are seeing [among the nations along the Nile] is a proxy conflict of who should be the regional hegemon, Egypt or Ethiopia.
[Egypt's President] Sisi's appointment as minister of defence in 2012 was partly predicated on a move to sideline [Retired Egyptian General Sami Hafez].
[The dispute about future management of the Nile] is a proxy conflict over who should be the regional hegemon, Egypt or Ethiopia.
Egyptian-Israeli relations are today at their highest level in history.
How can the dizzying changes, intersecting crises and multiplying conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa since the 2011 Arab uprisings be best understood, let alone responded to? This long-form commentary by MENA Program Director Joost Hiltermann and our team steps back for a better look and proposes new approaches.
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.