The view that Egypt’s President and former army chief Abdel Fattah al Sisi is in control is not borne out by the pile-up of policy debris, says analyst David Gardner. A veteran former official says Mr Sisi hopes for a radical change in western policy, which Egypt’s rulers saw as naive and destructive response to the upheavals of the so-called Arab Spring, he writes for the Financial Times:
Their control is absolute. This shows not just in the blanket repression of civil liberties but in the destabilising incompetence of policymaking, too. Late last year, parliament passed a law placing all Egypt’s non-governmental organisations under central government control, all but cutting them off from foreign funding. This blunderbuss was fired at an estimated 25,000 NGOs in order to get at some 200 that defend human rights. If implemented, it would erase what is left of civil society, as well as curtail welfare services the state is unable to provide.
“If Egypt cannot chart a way forward between extremism and autocracy its prospects, as well as those of a region in turmoil, are bleak, and made no brighter by a west retreating into its comfort zone of backing Arab autocrats,” Gardner adds. “Encouraging authoritarian rule risks taking the country so far backwards that it risks joining the pyre of failing states in the region. Except Egypt is not just another state.”
The Arab Center Washington D.C. and the Project on Middle East Democracy hold a discussion on “Egypt and the United States under the Trump Administration.”
- Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski;
- Michael Dunne, director and senior fellow for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Middle East Program [and a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy];
- Bahey Eldin Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies;
- Moataz El Fegiery, protection coordinator of Middle East and North Africa for Front Line Defenders;
- Joyce Karam, Washington bureau chief of Al-Hayat.
Venue: National Press Club, 14th and F Streets NW, First Amendment Lounge, Washington, D.C. 2 p.m. – March 30, 2017 RSVP