During the last week of March, Egyptians headed to the polls to award incumbent President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi a second term. The event was an election in name only — and many Egyptians intentionally invalidated their ballots to register their protest.
Successive candidates from the military, civil society and the Islamist movement were pressured out of the race before campaigning even began. Sisi eventually faced off against a handpicked candidate, Musa Mustapha Musa, an uninspiring Ghad party official, who has been described as “an obscure toady gleaned from the scrap heap of fourth-rate politicians.” In the lead-up to the election, the Sisi regime observed “few boundaries on its untamed repression of all forms of dissent,’’ jailing, deporting or otherwise silencing any semblance of opposition.… Seguir leyendo »
Earlier this month, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi won reelection with a sweeping 97 percent of the vote, in what was widely considered a sham election. Overall participation was only 41 percent of registered voters, falling short of the 47 percent four years ago. The low turnout was effectively a gauge of the faltering popular support for the nationalist policies of Sissi, whose campaign centered on his ability to safeguard security and stability.
In the Egyptian context, nationalism is often understood as a tool wielded by the state to co-opt and redirect street pressure for reform into support for a strong state.… Seguir leyendo »
The only legitimately elected president Egypt ever had has now been in jail for almost five years. My father, Mohamed Morsi, won with 52 percent of the vote in 2012, when we experienced the first and last truly democratic election in our country’s history. He was imprisoned following a bloody military coup in 2013. The so-called presidential election that is about to take place on March 26-28, by contrast, is a farce.
Of the seven opposition candidates in Egypt, only one has been allowed to run against Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. His name is Moussa Mostafa Moussa, and he is the leader of the Ghad Party.… Seguir leyendo »
A pesar de una evidente caída de su cuota de popularidad, el presidente Abdelfatá Al Sisi detenta aún un férreo control sobre Egipto y sus instituciones. Tanto el duro programa de ajuste económico aplicado por el Gobierno como los cíclicos zarpazos de los grupos yihadistas han suscitado un amplio malestar entre los egipcios. En lugar de ofrecer concesiones a la oposición, la respuesta del régimen ha sido intensificar la represión de toda forma visible de disidencia para evitar cualquier conato de protesta en las calles. La preparación de las elecciones presidenciales, cuya primera vuelta se desarrollará entre el 26 y 28 de marzo y en las que Al Sisi buscará la reelección, ha puesto de manifiesto el endurecimiento de la dictadura.… Seguir leyendo »
Egypt is approaching a critical moment. Since last fall, the popularity of President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi has steadily diminished not only among the public and many of Egypt’s secular and Islamist intellectuals but also among key supporters of his regime. He’s still going to win the sham presidential election scheduled for March 26 to 28. But there are many signs that his second term might not last for as long as he hopes.
Sissi has unleashed a crackdown on dissent that has no parallel in the country’s modern history. Yet this campaign is falling short of its intended objectives. Now discontent is brewing among the ruling elite, including the military.… Seguir leyendo »
Two women with little in common have detonated their way out of the fortress of taboo that surrounds sexual violence in Egypt, where victimized women are routinely forced to accept shame and blame, not justice. In fighting back and speaking out, these two have forced the beginnings of a reckoning onto men whom countless excuses have absolved of their mistreatment of women.
In February, a court sentenced a man in southern Egypt to three years in prison for groping one of the women. In Cairo, a onetime presidential candidate, Khaled Ali — whom some had considered an avatar of the ideals of Egypt’s 2011 revolution — resigned as head of the Bread and Freedom Party and as a lawyer with the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights after being accused of sexual misconduct.… Seguir leyendo »
Later this month, Egyptians will go to the polls to reelect Abdel Fatah al-Sissi to his second term as president. An all too familiar scenario is playing out: Sissi is the only viable candidate. His sole challenger, Mousa Mostafa Mousa, is the head of a party that had endorsed Sissi before entering its own candidate at the last minute. Other potential challengers were threatened, intimidated or arrested into withdrawing.
The regime’s harassment and deterrence of potential opposition candidates do not always lead to calls for boycotting. This time, however, 150 opposition figures and seven political parties came together to denounce the elections as a farce and call for a boycott of the upcoming polls.… Seguir leyendo »
As Egypt approaches its upcoming presidential election this month, its allies and critics have largely reconciled themselves to the inevitable re-election of President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. The regime has aggressively culled the field of potential competitors through intimidation, harassment, prosecution and detention.
The real struggle for Egypt’s fate will come after the election, when the regime will seek to amend the constitution to extend presidential terms and abolish term limits.
This could present an important opportunity for Egyptian political actors and civil society to focus attention, build alliances and begin the longer-term process of laying the groundwork to restore civilian-led politics.… Seguir leyendo »
The UK and US authorities have recently listed two Egyptian groups, Hassm and Lewaa al-Thawra, as terrorist organizations.
Hassm, an abbreviation for ‘The Arms of Egypt Movement’ (established in July 2016), and Lewaa al-Thawra, which translates as ‘The Banner of the Revolution’ (formed in August 2016), have claimed responsibility for several operations targeting Egyptian security and religious figures. These operations include the assassination of Brigadier General Adel Ragaie, a senior officer in the armed forces, in October 2016 by Lewaa al-Thawra, and the attempt by Hassm to assassinate former Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomaa in August 2016.
Although some of the members of these two groups were previously associated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the two groups reject any organizational ties to the Brotherhood.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week, security forces in Egypt arrested a man named Hisham Geneina. Geneina, the former head of the national auditing agency, is not a first-rank politician in his own right. But it is clearly not his background as a financial expert that drew the attention of prosecutors. It was his vocal role as an aide to Lt. Gen. Sami Anan, the former Army chief of staff who was himself jailed last month, not long after announcing his intention to run for election against President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi.
By arresting Anan, Sissi removed his last serious rival in the approaching Egyptian presidential election, which is set to begin March 26.… Seguir leyendo »
Which country, due to hold a presidential election next month, is led by an autocrat who, having eliminated any serious competition, is basically running against himself?
Hints: A political analyst in that country has said, as a reminder of the deliberate ineffectiveness of electoral competitors, “Some figures are allowed in, like backup dancers.” Indeed, the most serious challenger to the incumbent president has been barred from contesting the election, which denies him a platform to broadcast accusations of corruption that could involve the president.
The answer, of course, is Russia, where President Vladimir V. Putin has eliminated all serious competition, most notably Alexei A.… Seguir leyendo »
Egypt is in the midst of a baffling election season. President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi is running for reelection, and a succession of possible opponents have met unfortunate ends. A rogue military colonel who announced his candidacy on Facebook promptly disappeared. The prominent former general Sami Anan was detained and his deputies attacked by vigilantes. Civilian lawyer and liberal favorite Khaled Ali announced his withdrawal, complaining of irregularities.
Sissi claims to be a democrat, but without a challenger, the entire election risked invalidation by Egypt’s intermittently independent judiciary. The president needed an opponent, and with hours to go before the Jan. 29 filing deadline, he finally got one: Moussa Moustafa Moussa of the small al-Ghad Party.… Seguir leyendo »
Former general Sami Anan declared his intention to run against Sisi and then was arrested. What do challenges from within the army tell us about Sisi’s grip on power?
Harassment of rival presidential candidates is all too predictable, but the arrest of Sami Anan is striking because it is unusual for the head of Egypt’s military-dominated regime to face a challenger with a senior military background. Usually the only challengers to incumbent presidents have been leftists and liberals, from Ayman Nour to Hamadeen Sabahi, who have been easier for the military to undermine. But Sisi has faced two.
First, Ahmed Shafiq, former head of the air force, who narrowly lost the 2012 presidential election to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, declared his intention to stand for the election from his self-exile in the UAE.… Seguir leyendo »
For the past three Tuesdays, Egypt has hanged civilians sentenced to death by military tribunals:
Jan. 9: Three men were hanged. They had been convicted of rape and sentenced to die by a military tribunal in 2011.
Jan. 2: Four men accused of being Islamic militants were hanged. They had been tried and sentenced to death by a military tribunal for an attack in 2015 outside a stadium that killed three military academy students.
Dec. 26: Fifteen men accused of being militants were hanged. A military tribunal had convicted them in November and sentenced them to death for an attack on a military checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula in 2013 in which one officer and eight soldiers were killed.… Seguir leyendo »
When Vice President Mike Pence visits Egypt on Wednesday, he will follow in the footsteps of countless American officials who have stopped in Cairo to laud the “strategic partnership” between the United States and Egypt.
This has become a vacuous and badly outdated talking point — the kind we both drafted during our years in the government. Mr. Pence shouldn’t pay lip service to it.
American and Egyptian interests are increasingly divergent and the relationship now has far less common purpose than it once did. Mr. Pence should make clear to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s president, that the two countries need a reset, beginning with a major reduction in American military assistance.… Seguir leyendo »
En nuestra época, los beduinos del Sinaí no llevan una existencia básicamente diferente de la de sus antepasados lejanos, ni muy alejada de la de los hebreos conducidos fuera de Egipto por Moisés; estos solo eran entonces una tribu casi como las demás. En Egipto ya existía una dictadura de hierro, y sin duda, el mariscal Al Sisi se imagina en sus sueños que es un faraón. El Sinaí es uno de los pocos sitios del mundo en el que los tiempos modernos no han transformado el paisaje y las costumbres. Por tanto, me parece extrañamente simbólico que, en ese desierto, y no en otro lugar, se haya perpetrado uno de los peores atentados que ha sufrido Egipto, en la mezquita de Bir al Abed, el pasado 24 de noviembre.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week’s attack on worshipers at a mosque in Egypt was by far the country’s worst terrorist massacre in modern history. More than 300 people died at the al-Rawda mosque — surpassing the death toll of a 2015 attack, when 224 people died after a Russian Metrojet plane was bombed in Sinai. Both attacks — and with them the rise of Egypt’s strongest insurgency — happened despite four years of brutal counterinsurgency and counterterrorism tactics unrestricted by laws, morality or the constitution.
Sinai’s insurgency is puzzling for insurgency and counterinsurgency studies for several reasons. Geographically, Sinai’s northeastern coastal terrain is not rugged.… Seguir leyendo »
It is not the first time that Egypt has seen attacks on mosques or other places of worship. But no one should be left in any confusion – Friday’s massacre was unprecedented. The Egyptian media are reporting in excess of 300 people dead, with scores more injured, as a result of the multi-pronged attack on the mosque in northern Sinai – and Egypt is now in the midst of a mourning period, a watershed in its modern history.
There are several points that ought to be stated from the outset. Even as the numbers of the dead were being released, and Egyptians were lamenting the greatest terrorist attack on their soil, the Trump administration was tweeting about walls and travel bans.… Seguir leyendo »
An attack at a Sufi mosque in the northern Sinai Peninsula in Egypt killed at least 235 people on Friday. It was the first time that Islamist militants — who have been attacking security forces and Christian churches for years — have gone after Muslim worshipers.
The carnage and audacity were horrific. According to witnesses, dozens of gunmen in off-road vehicles bombed the mosque, which was packed with worshipers at Friday Prayers. The assailants then opened fire as people tried to flee, and set fire to parked vehicles to block off access to the mosque.
It is unclear who carried out the attack, though groups claiming affiliation with the Islamic State are known to operate in the area.… Seguir leyendo »
On Friday, Egyptians were startled to hear an announcement from a hitherto unknown terrorist group calling itself “Ansar al-Islam.” The group proudly claimed responsibility for a devastating attack on security forces that took place two weeks ago in the desert west of Cairo. Sixteen policemen were killed.
Although little was known about the group that committed the attack or the actual number of Egyptian lives lost, one detail was clear. The Egyptian government had suffered an embarrassing defeat.
The attack was followed by an equally unprecedented reshuffle at the top of the security forces. Last weekend came the sacking of Mahmoud Hegazy, the armed forces chief of staff.… Seguir leyendo »