Propping up president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s regime is not the way forwardby Robert Springborg / October 20, 2017 / Leave a comment
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former general and head of military intelligence groomed by President Mubarak’s Minister of Defense to succeed him in that vital portfolio, instead gained control of the presidency itself by orchestrating a coup d’etat in July, 2013. Now running the country with an iron fist tougher than that of any preceding Egyptian president, he calculates domestic and foreign policies on the grounds that western powers will do whatever necessary to prevent the collapse of his regime—because they believe that would also mean the collapse of Egypt.
Such a collapse could yet come to pass, in no small part due to the botched efforts of those same powers.
That would be a disaster. Chaos in neighboring Libya has already amply demonstrated the costs to Europe of a failed Mediterranean state, and Egypt’s population is some 15 times larger than Libya’s. It includes more than thirty million citizens living in abject poverty on less than $2 per day. If Egypt failed, the nightmare scenario of a vast armada of boat people leaving its shores for Europe would make the equivalent from Libya seem just a bad dream.
A potential human tidal wave could, moreover, be accompanied by the export of terrorism.
The last effective redoubt of Islamic State is that in the Sinai Peninsula in northern Egypt. Six years after a tribal-Islamist insurgency commenced there, Egyptian security forces have yet to subdue it. Terrorism elsewhere in the country has been reduced over the past year, but remains a substantial threat. Arms smuggling across the Libyan and Sudanese borders is rife. Al Qaida is led by the Egyptian Ayman al Zawahiri, who presumably would leap at the chance to establish the primary base for his jihadi organisation on the banks of the Nile, within easy striking distance of western targets.
That western leaders appreciate the potential for these twin disasters to directly impact their nations’ interests and so will do all possible to prop up his regime, has been made manifest to Sisi. Italy has recently returned its Ambassador to Cairo, who among other commitments has pledged to try to “deliver” over one million Italian tourists to help save Egypt’s flagging tourism industry. Implied in these and other steps to bolster the Egyptian economy is that Rome has abandoned…