In early 2011, after huge protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square ended Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade autocracy, many activists who had taken to the streets found themselves in high demand. They were guests on “The Daily Show”. Hillary Clinton, then the U.S. secretary of state, visited the square, remarking it was “extraordinary” to be “where the revolution happened”, and met with some of the activists.
Alaa Abd el-Fattah, the Egyptian activist, intellectual and blogger described as “synonymous with Egypt’s 25 Jan. Revolution” knew the world’s attention would soon move on.
“They’ll soon forget about us”, he told me more than a decade ago.… Seguir leyendo »
As COP26 drew to a close in Glasgow, Egyptian officials announced their priorities for COP27, emphasizing climate finance and climate adaptation – a new approach given previous COPs mainly focused on mitigation, reducing emissions to limit climate damage.
This was followed by the COP27 presidency outlining its vision at MENA Climate Week 2022 to achieve ‘substantive and equal progress’ on all aspects of the negotiations, and Egypt emphasizing its intention to focus on implementing existing carbon reduction targets rather than pushing for further carbon cuts.
Egypt argues it is hosting COP27 on behalf of African nations and that, while it is promoting the interests of the developing world, it will be an impartial arbiter.… Seguir leyendo »
In early May, the Islamic State-Sinai Province killed 11 Egyptian soldiers and damaged a natural gas pipeline. Far from demonstrating the Islamic State’s power in the strategic peninsula, the attack was the first major incident in almost a year, a far cry from the full-blown jihadi insurgency that had gripped Sinai only a few years ago. The Egyptian military finally appears to be making progress in rolling back the group. Not only have there been fewer attacks, but Cairo’s funneling of economic development funds to the peninsula has also generated some goodwill among the long-restive population. In March 2021, a coalition of Bedouin tribesmen, armed civilians, and Egyptian military killed the region’s Islamic State leader.… Seguir leyendo »
In February, Egypt’s attorney general decided to investigate the writer and talk show host Ibrahim Eissa over his questioning of Salafi narratives of Islam. The move was a glaring contradiction to President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi’s repeated calls for the reformation of Islamic discourse. That contrast highlights the dilemma faced by Arab authoritarian rulers: Having decimated secularists and discredited liberalism, they have nothing left to fight Salafi thought with, and end up conceding further.
Since he seized power, Sissi has adopted the aura of an Islamic reformer. He restored churches attacked by extremists and legalized hundreds more, took the unusual step of attending Christmas Mass regularly and, last month, nominated a Christian judge to head Egypt’s highest court for the first time ever.… Seguir leyendo »
Standing outside the Tora prison complex, where my son is held, a mother asks me: What’s your son in for?
“Politics”, I say.
She looks surprised, not because you can be imprisoned for politics — there’s nothing strange about that in Egypt — but because most political prisoners are Islamists, and she doesn’t think I look like the mother of an Islamist. “He was one of shabab al-thawra, ” I add, the young people of the revolution.
No further explanation is needed.
Why is my son, Alaa Abd El Fattah, in prison? He is one of tens of thousands of political prisoners in Egypt.… Seguir leyendo »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »