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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

El-Sisi's Egypt: Stability at last, but at what price?

This is an article I wrote for the Student Center for African Research and Resolutions, a student think tank in Washington, D.C. Check them out at for more student-produced news regarding African affairs. This article can also be accessed in SCARR's blog section.

This article was originally published on July 25, 2014. 

A month ago, Egyptians headed to the polls to elect a new president after three years of instability and revolution. This time, it looks like the person elected is going to stick around. Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, a former Field Marshal in the Egyptian Army, was elected with a resounding 97 percent of the vote. Upon learning that Sisi had secured his victory, Egyptians celebrated in the same squares, including Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where they had protested in the last few years. Egypt finally seems to have suppressed the Islamist insurgency that arose in the Sinai peninsula after a coup deposed Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi. 
El-Sisi’s allies have stressed his devotion to making Egypt safe and secure again, but the long-serving soldier seems to be uninterested in establishing democracy in his country. Dozens of Al-Jazeerajournalists were detained earlier in the year and sentenced to four years in prison for “aiding the Muslim Brotherhood.” This sort of arbitrary jailing is what Moubarak did previously.

El-Sisi, however, has the ability to fundamentally change his country for the better if he wants to. Unfortunately for Egyptians, however, that may be unlikely. While Sisi has agreed to preside over parliamentary elections, he does not seem very receptive to the type of reform Egypt may find it needs.

And how long will Sisi’s popularity last? Stability is one goal, but how long will this last as well? It is still unknown whether Sisi will be an effective administrator or politician. Egypt is a rampantly corrupt country, with suffocating levels of bureaucracy.

The optimism of the Arab Spring is long gone. Of the countries where serious protests took place, only Tunisia seems to have put itself on the path to democracy. Algeria remains a military-controlled state. Libya is certainly more free than it was under Gaddafi, but lawlessness and tribal rivalries are still plaguing the country. Syria is still openly bleeding from civil war. Bahrain’s protests were suppressed by the monarchy. As of now, it’s Sisi’s choice whether he wants to make Egypt modern. Let’s just hope he changes his mind.

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