The CSS Blog Network

Did Sisi Save Egypt?

A man waves an Egyptian flag in front of riot police

This article was originally published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on 25 January 2016.

Five years ago, the leaders of Egypt’s protest movement shocked themselves by successfully bringing down President Hosni Mubarak, who had been in power since before many of them were born. In those days, it was not unusual to hear talk of a new dawn for Egyptian politics and the Arab world. It is difficult to find many leaders of that movement who are so cheerful today. And their disappointment is broadly shared in academic, policy, and media circles around the world. Young and disaffected Egyptians, the story goes, revolted against a stultified regime and demanded a democratic government, a freer society, and more economic rights. They won the battle but lost the war, as the military, initially along with the Muslim Brotherhood and later without it, gained the upper hand and defeated the revolutionaries.

But there is a very different way to tell the story of 2011. This tale is not one of high but disappointed hope, but one of threatened chaos and rescue. From the perspective of Egypt’s security institutions—its military, police, and intelligence forces—the uprising threatened to bring down not only Egypt’s president but its entire social and political order. Averting such an outcome was an arduous task, one that the Egyptian armed forces still see themselves as undertaking.

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Has Egypt’s Judiciary Become the New Theatre of the Absurd?

Young Egyptians protestig Morsi and the military. Image: Hamada Elrasam for VOA/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on 7 July 2015.

The recent death sentence passed down on former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, along with 106 others, is far from being the only politically motivated conviction made by the Egyptian courts. Mass trials have become common since the July 2013 coup, which ousted Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president.

Collectively, these court decisions have raised serious questions about the independence of the judiciary, and suggest that the courts are merely an extension of the military regime, rather than an independent arm of the state.

Characteristic of these trials is the lack of due process throughout investigation and trial proceedings, the absence of objective evidence presented during trials and increasing numbers of defendants held incommunicado without access to legal representation. Lack of transparency is also evident, with courts refusing to make judgements public, proof that the judicial functions in the country are fast becoming politicised. » More

Fascism in Interwar Egypt: Islam, Nationalism and Political Modernization

King Faruq I of Egypt in military uniform displaying several medals and decorations. Image: Riad Shehata/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 28 January, 2015.

Although Fascism has been a phenomenon made in Europe, it had its own political and ideological implications on the neighboring colonized Arab-Muslim world as well during the interwar period. Considering Egypt’s representative case, this article tends to show under which circumstances Fascism had established its own school in this Muslim country, what the native political forces had actually learned from it and how Fascism had been domestically translated into just another reflection of the political modernization process. » More

The Syrian Opposition Meeting in Cairo: One Small Step

Free Syrian Army rebels take up positions along an embankment on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Maraat al-Numan, Syria. Image: FreedomHouse/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Middle East Institute on 31 January, 2015.

Around 100 Syrian opposition figures recently concluded a conference in Cairo. The meeting was noteworthy for two reasons. It signaled Cairo’s cautious but unmistakable entry into the Syrian minefield, and it marks the still-fragmented opposition’s first careful steps in the direction of a compromise with the Assad regime.

President Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi’s government is determined to rehabilitate Egypt’s pan-Arab image and to restore an Egyptian role in Arab affairs—in Syria and elsewhere. “Egypt,” explains one close observer of the diplomatic efforts on Syria, “is trying to replace Istanbul as the capital of the opposition.”[i] » More

The Ongoing Campaign to Restrict Egypt’s Public Space

Image: TTC Press Images/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Atlantic Council on 11 September 2014.

Today, all TV journalists working in Egypt know that tasreeh—a monthly-renewable permit issued by the interior ministry for accredited journalists to film on the streets—is back. In the wake of the January 25 Revolution, it had disappeared from the bureaucracy, but now police are once again preventing journalists from filming without permission. While some, myself included, have managed to talk their way out of the resulting problems as we discovered the reintroduced regulation this summer, others haven’t been so lucky. Footage filmed by a France24 team was erased by police while working on a story on subsidies in July.

The three-year moratorium on the permit, and other restrictions, allowed independent journalism to flourish. Young freelance reporters driven by a revolutionary spirit were able to work and establish themselves on the scene, away from the structure of bureaucratic requirements. Independent initiatives in the field stand as a testament to the positive transformation. » More

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