Since a July 2013 military coup, Egypt has sought to reassert state authority undermined by the 2011 uprising at the expense of political inclusion, especially of the Muslim Brotherhood. The resulting polarisation has encouraged mounting political violence from the Islamic State (ISIS) and other violent groups, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula where a low-level insurgency has raged. In the Nile Valley, in 2017, ISIS has targeted the Coptic Christian minority, while al-Qaeda affiliates and other groups tied to the Brotherhood have targeted security forces. Crisis Group is urging the government to be more inclusive and address widespread violations of human and political rights, especially ahead of presidential elections scheduled for May 2018, to better address security and economic challenges.
Egypt faces an economic crisis that risks fuelling unrest. The International Monetary Fund demands reforms in return for loans, while the authorities seek to broaden their base through a much-criticised national dialogue. Foreign partners should cautiously support this balancing act to enhance the country’s stability.
IMF continued to pressure Cairo to privatise state assets and allow flexibility in its currency; govt stiffened entry requirements for Sudanese refugees.
Divergence persisted between Egypt and IMF on economic reform program. International Monetary Fund (IMF) 11 June confirmed that review of Egypt’s economic reform program did not take place in March as initially planned due to slow pace of reforms and, as a result, second tranche of $3bn loan package was not disbursed. Central Bank of Egypt same day said annual inflation rate in May rose to 32.7%, from 30.6% in April, highlighting that prices have not yet declined since January devaluation. President Sisi 14 June signalled refusal to let Egyptian pound float and allow for further devaluation, citing impact on livelihoods. National dialogue proceeded with meetings three days a week.
Egyptian border guard shot three Israeli soldiers dead. Egyptian border guard 3 June entered Israel through Nitzana border crossing and fatally attacked three Israeli soldiers; assailant’s family denied allegations of religious radicalisation, but acknowledged his resentment toward Israel after Israeli forces reportedly killed one of his colleagues. Israel subsequently gave its soldiers authorisation to shoot at any suspicious Egyptian soldier; incident unlikely to undermine bilateral security cooperation, however.
Egypt, Türkiye moved forward with normalisation of relations. FM Sameh Shoukry 3 June travelled to Türkiye to attend Turkish President Erdoğan’s inauguration ceremony, days after Egyptian presidency announced that Sisi and Erdoğan had agreed to immediately exchange ambassadors as part of diplomatic relations upgrade.
Cairo stiffened entry requirements for Sudanese. As thousands of people fleeing fighting in Sudan remained stranded at Sudan-Egypt border with no valid travel documents, Cairo 10 June required all Sudanese to obtain electronic visas to enter Egypt, reversing longstanding visa exemption for women, children and elderly men.
This week on The Horn, Alan talks with Michael Wahid Hanna, Crisis Group’s U.S. Program director, about the role of Egypt in Sudan’s war and how it might shape future relations between the two neighbouring countries and Cairo’s regional diplomacy.
The conflict in Egypt’s Sinai offers insights into U.S. foreign policy priorities. As part of our series The Legacy of 9/11 and the “War on Terror”, Michael Wahid Hanna argues Cairo has used the jihadist spectre to scare off critics and keep U.S. military aid flowing.
This week on The Horn, Alan and William Davison, Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, discuss Ethiopia's plans to start filling the massive dam it is building, including the complex dynamics at play, negotiations, and the parties' various concerns.
With rains swelling the Blue Nile, Ethiopia is just weeks away from beginning to fill the massive dam it is building. Egypt and Sudan demand that it not do so without an agreement. All three countries urgently need to make concessions for a deal.
Ethiopia and Egypt are in a heated standoff over a dam the former is building on the Blue Nile. To buy time for reaching a comprehensive settlement, the parties should agree on an interim fix covering the first two years of filling the dam’s reservoir.
In this episode of The Horn, Alan Boswell is joined by Harry Verhoeven, a leading academic expert on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to discuss everything from the politicisation of the dam to environmental sustainability and agricultural productivity in the Nile Basin.
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