UPDATE ON EGYPT

For some unknown reason, no one is reporting on Egypt these days!

To bring you up-to-date, the former general Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi won the election and is now the new president of Egypt. I predicted this result months ago and it has come down the pike just about as planned (by Sisi no less). Of the 25 million Egyptians who voted, Sisi was chosen by 97%. Is that a landslide or what? Stopping this election would have been like trying to halt an on-going train with your bare hands.

And how are things going in Egypt?

The Egyptian courts continue to wipe out the Muslim Brotherhood without blinking an eye. The group’s leader and 182 supporters litigated in a mass trial had their death sentences confirmed. Mohamed Badic, the Brotherhood leader, was charged with creating violence in the southern town of Minya just after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. Observers included Westerners, Americans and the European Union as well as civil rights groups who were all appalled and protested, but nothing changed. Nevertheless, Sisis stated that the Brotherhood would not be tolerated or allowed to exist under his rule. Whether these harsh sentences will be upheld or repealed remains to be seen.

Interestingly enough, the crackdown on the Brotherhood has not stifled dissent. Recently the policed fired tear gas on dozens of mostly secular protestors screaming their opposition to anti-protest legislation. Protesting without a license granted by the police is prohibited. Demonstrations occurred near one of the presidential palaces. During the demonstration, seven journalist were detained.

Within days of his election, Sisi forged ahead with austerity measures even though many officials worried about a public backlash. One variety was a rise in gasoline costs that went up by 78%. Some taxi drivers went on strike, Such a dramatic move reflects demonstrates how confidence Sisi is that he has the country under control even though the 18 to 30-years- old stayed at home during the presidential election.

The truth is that Egyptians  remain unhappy with the state of the country and also deeply divided over who should be running the government. Because he’s military, Sisi can sweep opposition under the rug even though opposition remains constant.  Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait funneled in at least $20 billion to stave off economic collapse in Egypt. Such outside support allows Sisi to repress liberal critics of his regime. To stay in power, Sisi must make progress in the economic realm as well as prop up State security. His efforts in bringing Sinai under control would seem to suggest that he’s running on that track.

To his credit, Sisi has stood behind the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. In addition, he has not been reluctant to fight terrorism popping up in the Sinai. Egypt and the Israelis have co-operated in suppressing this struggle.

Sisi has his work cut out for him. I’d bet he’ll do the job.

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Filed under Egypt, Israel, middle east

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