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Egyptian protesters shout slogans against the then-ruling military council during a rally in support of then-member of Parliament Zyad El-Elaimy in Cairo in February 2012. (Amr Nabil/AP)

On Wednesday, after more than two years in detention without trial, Zyad El-Elaimy, Hossam Monis and four other young politicians and activists were rushed to a “State Security Emergency Court” and sentenced to three to five years in prison. They were not tried for their original “crime” — plotting to undermine state security by running for legislative elections in 2020. Instead, they were charged with “spreading false news, threatening national security and spreading fear.”

The evidence consisted of an article or social media post by each figure, in which they criticized Egypt’s human rights record and economic policies. The trial began just a day after the charges were laid.…  Seguir leyendo »

A picture taken on 25 November 25 2017, shows the Rawda mosque, roughly 40 kilometres west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish, after a gun and bombing attack. STR / AFP

In the sweep of events following the 11 September 2001 attacks, the low-level, intermittent jihadist insurgency in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula is understandably outside the spotlight. While posing a persistent threat to Egypt, Sinai militants have only occasionally attracted significant notice outside the country, usually following spectacular attacks on tourist or other civilian sites. To a degree, the scant attention is a function of isolation: the Egyptian state has made the northern Sinai, the primary theatre of violence, off limits to journalists and researchers.

Though lack of access has hindered understanding of Sinai events, Egypt’s experiences with Islamist militancy, the broad contours of which remain visible from a distance, can still offer insight into how the 9/11 attacks shaped U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein holds a joint press conference with his counterparts, Jordan's Ayman Safadi (L) and Egypt's Sameh Shoukry, at the ministry in the capital Baghdad, on 29 March 2021. Photo by SABAH ARAR/AFP via Getty Images.

Alliances in the Middle East come and go, often shaped and determined by regional competition and international intervention. The past few years have seen the normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel, the reconciliation between the GCC states following a four-year rift, and the once-strong Saudi-UAE partnership, built on close ties between crown princes Mohammed bin Zayed and Mohammed bin Salman, come under pressure.

An emerging regional alliance worth watching is that of Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, which brings together the region's 'odd fellows'. Egypt has lost its place as the region's so-called centre of gravity, Jordan was sidelined during the Trump era and has since, arguably, lost its unique selling point as an interlocutor for peace to the UAE and Bahrain, while Iraq left the Arab fold long ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

A view of the Blue Nile near Dejen, Ethiopia, in September 2020. (Yonas Tadesse/FTWP)

Egypt and Ethiopia are inching, slowly but surely, toward conflict.

Negotiations over the construction and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile — which Egypt fears will cause droughts in the country downstream — have collapsed. On Tuesday, the Egyptian president warned that “no one can take a single drop of water from Egypt, and whoever wants to try it, let him try.” The following day, the Egyptian military revealed joint air force training with Sudan, which it is calling the “Nile Eagles.” (Sudan also depends heavily on Nile water from Ethiopia). Meanwhile, the Ethiopian government is moving forward with plans to fill the reservoir of the dam, which it wants to complete by 2023.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman holds a placard as she protests against Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi in Paris on Dec. 8, 2020. (Michel Euler/AP)

Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz published a little-known novella in 1974 called “Karnak Café,” in which a group of students discuss politics and fall in and out of love in 1960s Egypt. Though their involvement in politics is not ideological, but rather motivated by a general desire to better the country, they are targeted by state security. They’re detained, accused of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood, tortured, then released with a halfhearted apology. Despite avoiding politics — and the cafe — they’re arrested twice more, accused of subversion, and raped and tortured. One of them dies under torture, and those who survive are broken.…  Seguir leyendo »

Egyptians celebrated the fall of President Hosni Mubarak's regime in Cairo's Tahrir Square in 2011. (Ben Curtis/AP)

In February 2011, Hosni Mubarak resigned as Egypt’s leader after more than 29 years in office — a resignation prompted by unprecedented mass uprisings. Across the region, millions of Arabs brought down dictators who had been in power for decades, such as Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Moammar Gaddafi in Libya, and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen. In Egypt, masses celebrated Mubarak’s resignation, chanting, “We have brought down the regime.”

Ten years later, a new military leader governs Egypt with an iron fist: President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi. While economic grievances and political repression remain high, my research on the reasoning processes underlying decisions to join the Arab Spring suggests that masses will not soon pour onto the streets again.…  Seguir leyendo »

A mural in Cairo in 2012 depicted President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and former ministers after he was deposed in the Arab Spring. Credit Tomas Munita for The New York Times

Ten years ago, as masses of demonstrators filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square, I made a modest bet with a friend that Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s dictator of nearly 30 years, would hold on to power. My thinking was that Mubarak controlled the army, and the army could see that the choice Egypt faced wasn’t between democracy and dictatorship. It was the choice among Islamism, chaos — and him.

I lost the bet, but I wasn’t entirely wrong.

Mubarak himself, of course, soon fell, raising broad hopes that decent, stable, representative democracy might yet establish itself not just in Egypt but throughout the Arabic-speaking world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Aerial view of ongoing construction at Egypt's New Administrative Capital megaproject, 45 kilometres east of Cairo. Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images.

When Cairo dispatched its minister of health Hala Zayed along with some medical equipment to Beijing to express solidarity with China in its battle with COVID-19 back in March 2020, the Egyptian government was beaming with pride – both publicly and privately – having found an opportunity to show support to the country that ‘has been our ally and generous friend through the years, and stood by us in international forums’, in the words of one senior official.

Egypt was the first Arab and African country to establish direct diplomatic relations with the China in 1956 and, just weeks later, Beijing gave its first-ever foreign grant offering $4.5 million to Egypt during the Suez Crisis – a minute amount as far as international aid goes, but one full of symbolism.…  Seguir leyendo »

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi at the United Nations in New York in September 2019. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

For Americans, Thanksgiving week is a time of gratitude and celebration. But in Egypt, the regime of Abdel Fatah al-Sissi is using the holiday — and the fact that Washington is in transition — as a smokescreen to crack down on the opposition and civil society.

Gasser Abdel Razek, the recently detained executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), is currently sitting in a cold cell with no winter clothing after having his head forcibly shaved. This is how the military regime in Egypt is treating one of the country’s foremost human rights defenders. This treatment took place despite international condemnation of his arrest along with two senior staff last week on trumped up charges related to aiding a terrorist group.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the six years since Abdel Fatah al-Sissi assumed the presidency in Egypt, the country has devolved into the deepest human rights crisis it has experienced in decades. In the face of this downward spiral, it’s not surprising that many in the West have stopped paying attention. As more and more activists are exiled or jailed, human rights abuses in Egypt have become a dog-bites-man story.

But last week, the government crossed a dangerous new threshold in its crackdown on peaceful dissent, one that all who care about the global struggle against authoritarianism should note and condemn.

On Tuesday, for the first time since their creation, Egypt’s special counterterrorism courts sentenced a prominent human rights activist to the maximum penalty under provisions of a draconian new cybercrime law: 15 years in prison for criticizing the Sissi regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

Algo tiene la tumba de Jufu, ese faraón al que los griegos llamaron Keops, que seduce. Motivos no le faltan, porque con sus 146,6 m de altura y sus 230 m de base cuadrada (lo cual equivale, aproximadamente, a la fachada principal del estadio Santiago Bernabéu y la altura de la torre Picasso) durante casi cuatro milenios fue el edificio más alto del mundo. Tan grande es esta montaña artificial que los griegos la incluyeron en su lista de las siete maravillas del mundo y la iban a visitar con asombrados ojos de turista, como después harían los romanos. El problema es cuando la seducción se convierte en obnubilación y para intentar comprender los motivos de su existencia se comienzan a soltar paparruchas sin cuento ni apoyo ninguno en los datos históricos y arqueológicos.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Blue Nile river passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) near Guba in Ethiopia. Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images.

Ongoing talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan attempting to find a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the dispute over the Blue Nile Basin offer a unique opportunity for trans-boundary cooperation and have huge significance for a region dealing with multiple complex issues.

With trust clearly at a premium, the continuation of talks demonstrates good faith, but there is an urgent need to strengthen negotiations through all available diplomatic channels. The African Union (AU) is well-placed to continue mediating, but sustained high-level engagement is also needed from regional and international partners such as the EU and US, as well as multilateral support in terms of both financial and technical resources.…  Seguir leyendo »

An image shared widely over social media reportedly shows Ms. Hegazi at the concert in Cairo. Credit Photograph via Instagram

Last month, Sarah Hegazi, a 30-year-old Egyptian L.G.B.T.Q. rights activist, took her own life in Canada. Far away from Cairo, her home, she was profoundly haunted by what had happened to her there over the past two and a half years, having been arrested, tortured and hounded into exile. Her transgression? She raised the rainbow flag — unabashedly and joyously — at a concert in Cairo.

I was onstage that fated night, Sept. 22, 2017, with my band Mashrou' Leila. We’re an indie group from Beirut and have played across the Middle East and beyond for more than a decade now.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week, for many, the coronavirus pandemic that has left much of the world paralyzed is hitting closer to home than ever. But for some of us, the scare is not just about our health or even the availability of essential food and hygiene products in our local stores. It is the crippling fear for our loved ones unjustly imprisoned halfway across the world.

On Tuesday, I woke up to news of the first covid-19 case in Wadi el-Natrun prison, where my father has been held as a political prisoner in Egypt since 2013. Ever since, I have struggled to imagine how Egypt’s prisoners, packed like sardines in unventilated underground dungeons, feel about the impending doom metastasizing in their midst.…  Seguir leyendo »

El historiador romano Salustio observó que la manera en que se crean los estados determina cómo son gobernados. Esta máxima se puede aplicar también a los propios gobernantes. Es más, en muchos casos, la manera en que termina el poder de un gobernante determina cómo será recordado su régimen.

Éste parece ser el caso del ex presidente egipcio Hosni Mubarak, que fue depuesto luego de un masivo levantamiento popular contra su régimen, que se caracterizó por ser autoritario, opresivo, corrupto y nepotista.

Sin duda, Mubarak fue un gobernante autocrático, en cuyo gobierno la oposición radical –especialmente islámica- no era tolerada. Las elecciones eran una farsa, una forma jerárquica de gobierno controlaba a la población a través de una plétora de servicios secretos (“el estado Mukhabarat”) y el sistema con que se lo identificaba era cualquier cosa menos libre.…  Seguir leyendo »

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak died Tuesday, nearly a decade after he was toppled in a chaotic coup that broke his iron rule but didn’t provide Egypt with a dynamic, post-Mubarak identity.

Mubarak has been a forgotten man in recent years, but his death evokes the paradox and pain of the Middle East. He governed Egypt for nearly 30 years, a modernizing despot who kept peace with Israel and liberalized the economy but balked at dismantling the military dictatorship and police-state tactics that had spawned him.

The revolt against Mubarak in early 2011 was the apogee of the “Arab Spring” movement; an idealistic President Barack Obama helped push him out the door, a move that Saudi Arabia and other conservative Arab states never forgave.…  Seguir leyendo »

The death on Tuesday morning of Hosni Mubarak is a reminder of where Egypt’s authoritarian regime stands. The man whose figure overshadowed Egypt for 30 years, whose death has been the subject of speculation for nearly 20 of them, has passed away quietly, years after he lost relevance.

I am from the generation that was in high school when Anwar Sadat was president. Sadat was hailed internationally as a modernizer, a courageous Arab leader who brought peace. But for the people of Egypt, he was an egocentric tyrant who imprisoned his opponents, presided over a corrupt regime that enriched the privileged and was more interested in impressing foreign audiences with fake signs of modernity while the country reeled in decay.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘If there is no reaction to Shady Zalat’s arrest, they will come for someone else, then another, and another.’ Mada Masr editor Zalat has been arrested by the Egyptian regime and his whereabouts are unknown. Photograph: AP

Editor’s note: as this piece was published, news broke of a raid on Mada Masr’s offices. Security forces left after over three hours, having detained at least three staff members including the editor-in-chief, Lina Attalah. Shady Zalat, the subject of this article, was released from detention on an outlying Cairo road an hour after the raid ended.

In the early hours of Saturday morning there was a loud banging on Shady Zalat’s door. He will have known they had come for him.

Zalat is an editor at Mada Masr, the last independent news outlet operating under the military regime that came to power with General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s coup d’etat in 2013.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir take part in a tripartite summit regarding a dam on the Nile River, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 10 February 2019. AFP/ANADOLU AGENCY/Handout /Presidency of Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed are set to meet on the margins of an ongoing two-day Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in an effort to ease tensions over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ethiopia is building the dam on the main tributary of the Nile, and Egypt fears that the project will imperil its water supply.

Experts from those two nations and Sudan, the third country directly involved, had neared a technical consensus last year on how fast Ethiopia would fill the dam’s reservoir. But the past few months have seen Addis Ababa and Cairo move further apart amid feisty exchanges of rhetoric.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pro-democracy protesters rally in Cairo in February 2011. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

After eight months of protest, Sudan’s ongoing transition to civilian democratic rule will reach a milestone this week when the country’s transitional government is announced. Meanwhile in Algeria, protesters continue to gather weekly to demand fundamental changes to the political system five months after the removal of the country’s president.

In the face of ruthless security apparatuses, how can protesters in Sudan and Algeria avoid the fate of Egypt, where the old regime was able to engineer a comeback only two years after the ouster of the country’s erstwhile dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

What makes a revolution successful?

Many factors determine whether a revolution is successful in installing a stable democracy, from international intervention to a country’s economic conditions.…  Seguir leyendo »