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

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”.

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In The News

31 May 2022
[The war in Ukraine] has exposed once again the fragility of Egypt’s political and economic model. Bloomberg

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa
10 May 2022
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. The National

Michael Wahid Hanna

Program Director, U.S.
12 Jul 2021
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... Politico

Michael Wahid Hanna

Program Director, U.S.
26 Jun 2021
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... Al Monitor

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa
23 Sep 2019
[In Egypt, anti-government] protests have now pierced the ‘wall of fear’ and are a major source of concern for the regime. Twitter

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa
25 Mar 2018
For [the Egyptian government], development and economic growth come after the ISIS problem is resolved, and that is taking much longer than they anticipated. Al Jazeera

Issandr El Amrani

Former Project Director, North Africa

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