The Week in Egypt | October 27, 2014

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

Quote of the Week

“Being a political majority should not be a means for politicians to issue laws that serve to design and build a state that fulfils their particular mission.  Some consider majority support as their turn to exercise, and in many cases abuse, power.”

—Mohammed Nosseir is an Egyptian liberal politician working on reforming Egypt on liberal values, proper application of democracy, and free market economy.

Egypt in the News







“Whistleblowers say USAID’s IG removed critical details from public reports” | Scott Higham and Steven Rich, The Washington Post
Auditors at the US Agency for International Development said the agency had concealed program details in its public report. The Washington Post reported that information about a $4.6 million “bail” payment made to the Egyptian government to free sixteen American NGO workers in 2012 was removed from the program’s report.

“After the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the U.S. Agency for International Development hired several non­governmental organizations to set up pro-democracy programs in Egypt — even though they were not registered to work in the country.”

“Less than a year later, the Egyptian government charged 43 NGO workers with operating illegally. Sixteen of them were Americans, including the son of then-U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.”

“The Americans were freed in March 2012 after USAID secretly paid the Egyptian government $4.6 million in “bail” money.”

“That May, USAID’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) completed a confidential draft audit of the program that questioned the wisdom of the program and the legality of using the money to post bail.”

“But when the inspector general’s office publicly issued its final audit report five months later, those findings and other critical conclusions had been removed, according to internal audit documents obtained by The Washington Post. What was once a 21-page report had been reduced to nine.”

“The USAID inspector general is responsible for ensuring that the billions of dollars the agency devotes to foreign assistance programs each year are spent wisely. The agency hires nongovernmental organizations and private contractors to carry out its projects, which include improving medical facilities, stabilizing economies, and rebuilding war-wrecked nations such as Afghanistan and Iraq.”

“The Post obtained draft versions of 12 audits by the inspector general’s office, covering projects from the Caribbean to Pakistan to the Republic of Georgia between 2011 and 2013. The drafts are confidential and rarely become public. The Post compared the drafts with the final reports published by the inspector general’s office and interviewed former and current employees. E-mails and other internal records also were reviewed.”

“The Post tracked changes in the language that auditors used to describe USAID and its mission offices. The analysis found that more than 400 negative references were removed from the audits between the draft and final versions.”

“The Muslim Brotherhood and the Future of Political Islam in Egypt” | Ashraf El-Sherif, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Ashraf El-Sherif analyzed the situation for political Islam in Egypt, predicted possible future scenarios for the development of political Islam going forward.


“The regime remains committed to the goal of eradicating the Brotherhood, even though it lacks the resources to effectively do so. The Brotherhood continues to face a ruthless crackdown by the regime, including arbitrary arrests, frozen assets, and violent confrontations.”

“Through ongoing protests that rattle the regime and begin to generate greater popular support, the Brotherhood returns to Egyptian politics in triumph.”

“Islamists and the regime negotiate a return to the political formula under former president Hosni Mubarak—limited political inclusion of the Brotherhood within certain regime-determined redlines.”

“The Brotherhood splits into two main fragments: moderates who view conventional Brotherhood policy as too confrontational, and hardliners who view current policy as too compromising and also ideologically incorrect.”

“The organization recognizes the failures of its current protests and withdraws from political activity, focusing on an internal ideological reinvention.”


“It is uncertain which of the five scenarios for the Brotherhood’s future will come to pass. The old state and the Brotherhood are currently committed, respectively, to the Brotherhood’s total eradication or its triumphant comeback. The unlikelihood that either of these scenarios will be fulfilled might force the regime and Islamists to be more open to other options, particularly reconciliation. Yet for the near to medium term, reconciliation, fragmentation, and reinvention remain unlikely.”

“The Brotherhood has proven to be more resilient than initially assumed, leaving political Islam as a force in Egyptian politics for the immediate future. The rise of post-Brotherhood politics would require the end of old-state authoritarian politics, economic development, and religious reform as well as the establishment of participatory democratic movements, none of which is currently foreseeable.”

“Current dynamics do not bode well for a future democratic Egypt. Any path for democratic political and social change has not been welcomed by the old state or the Islamists, who remain unwilling to engage with other actors or to foster renewed democratic thinking. This leaves political Islam, like the old state in Egypt, part of the ongoing problem rather than the solution.”

Video of the Week

Armed riot police march in Mansoura university, chanting, “For you Egypt, we accepted the challenge.”

Cartoon of the Week

University Violence
Believe me buddy. It is not important which college you go to… What’s important is that you graduate in one piece; not being jailed, injured, or dead!

This Week’s Interviews

“Don’t prejudge Egypt’s new draft law” | Stephen Kalin and Lin Noueihed, Reuters
Ghada Wali, minister of social solidarity, had an interview with Reuters in which she talked about Egypt’s new NGO law. Amid fears of a more severe restriction on NGOs, civil society groups have expressed concerns that the government is oppressing their operations under the guise of rule of law. Responding to these concerns, Ms. Wali affirmed that the draft law was still open to revision and could be further amended by parliament, which she hopes will pass the law after elections expected later this year. She said “harsh criticism of the proposed law by NGOs was premature given that the latest version has not yet been made public.” She declined to comment on the contents of the new law, but reiterated, “What we are committed to is that this NGO draft … will be in line with the Egyptian constitution, will be in line with all international treaties that Egypt is a signatory of and will be in adherence with the best practices.”  Before the parliament makes a final say about the draft NGO law, Egypt is applying a Mubarak-era law on NGOs. The government has set a deadline for civil society groups to register with the ministry of social solidarity. If they fail to comply, they will face asset seizures. Wali explained, “We will start asking different authorities to tell us what are these entities because we don’t know them all,” and “(The organizations) will be contacted one by one with the forms and requested to come forward and comply with the law.”

No plan for Egyptian military action against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria | Michael Georgy, Reuters
Egypt’s interior minister, Ibrahim Mahlab, said that “for the Egyptian army the most important thing is its borders and the stability of its country and the protection of its country,” affirming that Egypt does not have plans to provide the United States with direct military assistance in its war against the Islamic State. Mahlab added, “The aerial intervention of the United States is a very important intervention at this stage. But is it enough? With the strengthening of the Iraqi army and the presence of the Iraqi army on the ground. We must evaluate step by step. It is still too early to judge what will happen in the field.” Meanwhile, he stressed that the problem of the Islamic State is a global problem, with some Islamic State fighters having western passports and can evade detection at airports. Despite his reluctance in militarily assisting the United States against the Islamic State, Mahlab willingness to step in if the security of the Gulf is threatened by Islamist militancy, saying, “The security of the Gulf is the security of Egypt and Egypt’s security is the Gulf’s security.” He also highlighted the importance of Libya’s security, but insisted on non-interference. He said, “We favor non-interference in Libya’s internal affairs. But we support both people and we also protect our border with Libya which is more than 1,000 kilometers.”

Image: Family members of security forces killed in Sinai on Friday react near an army vehicle as they wait for the bodies of their relatives at Almaza military airbase in Cairo October 25, 2014. Two attacks in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula killed 33 security personnel on Friday, security sources said, in some of the worst anti-state violence since Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown last year. (Photo: REUTERS/Youm7)