The Week in Egypt [December 8, 2014]

Catch up on the latest out of Egypt every week, with analysis, news updates, photos, videos, and more.

Quotes of the Week

“If I die, do not bury me here. Bring me the sky.” – Writes young poet Omar Hazek in one of his letters to his family from prison. A talented writer who once won prizes for his romantic verse, Hazek was arrested during a protest in December 2013. [The Christian Science Monitor]

“They will become more of a counterterrorism partner because they will likely face more internal dissent and political violence.” – Says former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Saban Forum 2014, referring to Egypt’s relation with the United States. [Brookings]

Egypt in the News







“Unreadable Egypt” | Hussein Ibish, NOW.

“Are Egyptians exhausted and, after years of protesting, simply unable to muster yet another street-level rebellion? Are they apathetic and cynical, their once incandescent idealism having dwindled into a faint spark because they’ve seen their efforts time and again result in failure?”

“One reason Egyptians might be defying local and international expectations with their apparent patience for the government, even given actions such as the acquittal of Mubarak which in the past would undoubtedly have been received as an unbearable provocation, is the growing sense that the Egyptian economy is on a sudden and unexpected uptick.”

“Certainly the lack of major unrest as a consequence of the Mubarak verdict will be taken as an indicator that calm is being restored to a society that, in recent years, has been prone to bouts of chronic unrest. However, should that sense of confidence, whether justified or unjustified, begin to atrophy, it could undermine the influx and movement of capital that is underwriting Egypt’s current spurt of economic growth.”

“ISIS Enters Egypt” | Khalil al-Anani, Foreign Affairs

“Ansar Beit al-Maqdis’ new ambitions provide yet another sign that Sisi’s campaign of blind and brutal repression has backfired: Over the past few years, the militant group has grown only more appealing to disillusioned young Egyptians. And, in turn, it has expanded its objectives.”

“The new jihadist alliance is a disaster for Washington as well as Cairo. For one thing, it is proof positive that ISIS has been able to use its victories in Iraq and Syria to attract new followers and continued support outside the Levant—despite the fact that it is facing the fury of a U.S.-led air campaign. Egypt, moreover, home to such veteran jihadists as al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri (who despite his best efforts, has never been able to establish a foothold there), has become a full-fledged area of ISIS operations. For the group’s leaders, Egypt plays a central role in its vision of an Islamic caliphate, not only because of the country’s political and cultural stature in the Arab world, but also because of its borders with Israel.”

“Moving forward, the Obama administration will be tempted to give Sisi a blank check to fight Ansar Beit al-Maqdis and ISIS. But if Washington is to have any hope of succeeding in the larger fight against ISIS and its affiliates, the United States must ensure that any military support does not solidify autocratic rule or target innocents. It goes without saying that Sisi, like his fellow Arab autocrats, will derive his own benefit from the new alliance, allowing him to justify his despotic policies against political activists and dissenters. Yet recent events suggest that such an approach could backfire, leaving the United States and its allies to pick up the pieces.”

On Twitter 

Leaked recordings, which appeared on YouTube on Thursday, included alleged conversations between a leading member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the minister of interior, and others. In the alleged leaks, Major General Mamdouh Shahin, Assistant Defense Minister for Legal and Constitutional Affairs and SCAF member, told Osama al-Gendy, Commander of the Egyptian Navy, that Mohamed Morsi could be dismissed from detention as he was illegally held in a military facility when he should have been detained in an interior ministry facility, as he is being tried in front of a civilian court.  Shahin purportedly asked interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim to fabricate documents against Morsi. A security source told Aswat Masriya that the recordings were faked, and the prosecutor general’s office announced a criminal investigation into this incident.

Video of the Week After the recently-released popular video “10 Hours of Walking in New York City as a Woman”, Dot Masr created the Egyptian version, showing instances of street harassment, including stalking, catcalling, gazing, and physical harassment. The UN estimates that as high as 99 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of harassment. Although the government has recently started to take actions against sexual harassment, this treatment of women is still widespread in reality.

Image: Photo: Egypt's riot police officers react after Hossam Ghaliy of Egypt's Al Ahly (L) was tackled by Jules Cesar of Ivory Coast's Sewe Sport during their African Confederations Cup final soccer match at Cairo stadium, December 6, 2014. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)