SUMMARY: Farrah Sheikh talks with CGP Senior Fellow Dalia Fahmy about politics, security and society in Egypt in the wake of the Arab Spring. The calls for democratic change made during the protests of 2011 have not been answered in Egypt, Fahmy says; the regime is far more oppressive, the government is having to ask the International Monetary Fund for large loans, and Egypt is overall in far worse shape than it was before the Arab Spring. An increasingly authoritarian government has put hundreds of opposition leaders — including members of the Muslim Brotherhood — in prison. Others are dead or hiding within Egypt, and others are in exile. With the opposition scattered, Fahmy says, organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood can’t have necessary conversations about the nature of their groups and what it is they hope to accomplish.
Fahmy discusses Egypt’s relationships with Turkey, Israel and Saudi as well as the U.S. strategy in Egypt. Fahmy says that historically, the United States has looked at Egypt through the lens of security and has preferred a stable autocracy to an unstable democracy. However, increased repression by the government is leading to instability anyway.
Fahmy also sheds light on Egypt’s internal political situation and the relationships between Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and the country’s institutions as well as the country’s society. The grueling economic problems facing the average Egyptian are fostering resentment, to the point where al-Sisi is becoming a liability to the military. The question is what the military will do if the president continues to be a liability. The cracks in al-Sisi’s relationship with the Egyptian people are also likely to lead to terrorist attacks that target government and the security apparatus first but expand to include civilian targets.