Earlier this month Egypt’s authorities announced the dates for the nation’s next presidential poll. Yet before the starting pistol has been fired, the winner seems not in doubt. The country’s current president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, will almost certainly be his nation’s next president. A growing list of potential candidates have either withdrawn their bids or have seen them blocked. The man with the best chance of tapping the discontent in the Arab world’s most populous nation had been Ahmed Shafik, a former air force general who narrowly lost the country’s only free presidential election in 2012. His lawyer took to Twitter to claim that the government had forced him to pull out.
Tag Archives: Egypt
Egypt’s restive northern Sinai province, where at least 235 people were killed and scores more injured in a bomb and gun assault on a mosque on Friday, has been under a state of emergency since October 2014, when Islamist militants killed more than 30 soldiers in one operation.
More than three years of fighting has failed to crush an insurgency waged by the local Islamic State affiliate, Wilayat al-Sinai (the Governorate of Sinai), which is also blamed for bombing attacks on churches in Cairo and other cities, killing dozens of Christians. It had also carried out the previous deadliest attack in Sinai when it downed a Russian passenger jet carrying tourists back from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in 2015, killing 224 people.
Egypt’s President al-Sisi facing serious questions about strategy to bring Isis hotspot Sinai province under control
The target of the Egyptian police, that day in November 2015, was the street vendors selling socks, $2 sunglasses and fake jewelry, who clustered under the arcades of the elegant century-old buildings of Heliopolis, a Cairo suburb. Such raids were routine, but these vendors occupied an especially sensitive location. Just 100 yards away is the ornate palace where Egypt’s president, the military strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, welcomes foreign dignitaries. As the men hurriedly gathered their goods from mats and doorways, preparing to flee, they had an unlikely assistant: an Italian graduate student named Giulio Regeni. He arrived in Cairo a few months earlier to conduct research for his doctorate at Cambridge. Raised in a small village near Trieste by a sales manager father and a schoolteacher mother, Regeni, a 28-year-old leftist, was enthralled by the revolutionary spirit of the Arab Spring. In 2011, when demonstrations erupted in Tahrir Square, leading to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, he was finishing a degree in Arabic and politics at Leeds University. He was in Cairo in 2013, working as an intern at a United Nations agency, when a second wave of protests led the military to oust Egypt’s newly elected president, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, and put Sisi in charge. Like many Egyptians who had grown hostile to Morsi’s overreaching government, Regeni approved of this development. ‘‘It’s part of the revolutionary process,’’ he wrote an English friend, Bernard Goyder, in early August. Then, less than two weeks later, Sisi’s security forces killed 800 Morsi supporters in a single day, the worst state-sponsored massacre in Egypt’s history. It was the beginning of a long spiral of repression. Regeni soon left for England, where he started work for Oxford Analytica, a business-research firm
The new capital of Egypt has no residents. It doesn’t have a local source of water. It just lost a major developer, the Chinese state company that had agreed to build the first phase. You might say the planned city in the desert 45 kilometers east of Cairo doesn’t have a reason to exist. Urban planner David Sims told the Wall Street Journal, “Egypt needs a new capital like a hole in the head.” 1What the project has going for it is a president who likes to talk big. Five million inhabitants big. An amusement park “four times the size of Disneyland” big. Seven hundred hospitals and clinics, 1,200 mosques and churches, 40,000 hotel rooms, 2,000 schools — that kind of big. 2 Yes, and fast, too. Standing with the Emir of Dubai beside a model of the new city, in March 2015, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi declared that construction would proceed immediately. “What are you talking about, ten years?” He turned to his housing minister. “I’m serious. We don’t work that way. Not ten years, not seven years. No way.” 3
Source: The Anti-Cairo
Egyptian President al-Sisi is employing militia in the Sinai – a sign of how desperate his war against Isis has become
Counter-insurgency wars – struggles against “terrorism” – always breed corruption and counter-murder. And now the Egyptian army is following the same contaminated path as many of its neighbours by using a killer-militia in its war against Isis in Sinai. Most armies have proxy allies who can act as informants and treat civilians with brutality. The Syrians, the Iraqis, the Turks – and the Israelis when they co-opted their own Lebanese militias between 1976 and 2000, and the Americans in Iraq – all ended up shamed by the cruelty of their supposed allies.
But now Egypt – whose own President staged the original military coup which overthrew the country’s first elected president, Mohamed Morsi – is employing uniformed militias in the Sinai, where Isis has taken over many areas of the peninsula. It is a sign of just how desperate the military situation has become in the battle with Isis that the Egyptian Army, whose former field marshal and commander, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, is now the president, should be resorting to such measures. Egyptian police and soldiers are now attacked daily and civilians are disappearing, either for fear of Isis or because they are seized by the army’s “collaborators” (for so they are of course called) who are also executing ‘suspects’.
Just as Pope Francis was holding a mass for 25,000 Coptic Christians in a Cairo stadium this weekend, around 30 Muslim schoolgirls arrived at the Coptic Museum in the old centre of the capital. They took photographs of each other and selfies against the facade of the museum. For the front wall of this magnificent building was constructed by Marcus Simaika Pasha in 1910 to resemble the facade of a mosque. This was a quite deliberate decision by Simaika: his idea was to illustrate in stone how intertwined are Egypt’s Christians and Muslims, not only in religion but in culture.
But that was then. It was, of course, the Pope’s message this weekend, along with that of the Sheikh of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb. Their message of peace was broadcast around the world. Their far more striking remarks – in almost identical words – about the evils of arms manufacturers who sell their products to the Middle East, was predictably ignored. Journalists understandably went for the most obvious story: both Muslim and Christian leaders condemned (no name mentioned, of course) the Isis ‘Caliphate’ – which Pope Francis excoriated in the memorable phrase “the incendiary logic of evil” – and the attacks on Christian churches by the Egyptian variety of the Isis cult. Yet the problems of Egypt’s Christians go rather deeper than this.
So it’s back to Egypt’s ghastly prisons, no arrest warrants, fearful interrogations, and a presidential state of emergency which brings the army back onto the streets. But it’s also a frightening prospect for President al-Sisi in the aftermath of the church attacks and the slaughter of 45 Coptic Christians – for it means that Isis has “crossed the canal”, something which his army has been trying to prevent for months.
Donald Trump may think that al-Sisi has done “a fantastic job in a very difficult situation” but in fact he’s done a deplorable job, presiding over multiple disappearances of anyone the police don’t like, allowing torture to resume in police stations (we should not forget the Italian student found tortured and murdered beside a highway outside Cairo), and pretending that the Muslim Brotherhood, whose government he overthrew in a coup d’etat, is Isis.
Long before the advent of the “migration crisis,” Italy signed a series of deals with Libya’s Colonel Muammar Qadhafi designed to stop thousands of mostly African migrants from reaching the shores of Europe.Between 2006 and 2011, Qadhafi took billions in development money and, in return, enforced Europe’s borders. Tens of thousands of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants were held in detention facilities where human rights groups reported physical abuse, torture and, in some cases, the use of lethal force.
This is the one thing Donald Trump, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and President al-Sisi in Egypt have in common
We reporters love crowd figures. The bigger the mob, the better the story. Politicians love them too. The greater the masses, the greater the popularity. Ask not who said: “I’m like, wait a minute. I made a speech. I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, million and a half people.” Ah, those millions.Back in 2011, the crowds in Tahrir Square were in their hundreds of thousands. A million Egyptians – that’s the figure Al Jazeera went for. Or maybe it was a million and a half people in central Cairo. They helped to overthrow Hosni Mubarak – with the help of the army, of course, the people’s protector. Experts thought 300,000 was the greatest number of Egyptians you could cram into the Tahrir district. But what the hell? It was a revolution.