from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

What’s General Sisi So Scared Of?

December 13, 2014

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This morning’s New York Times reveals the paranoia and vulnerability of the current Egyptian regime.

Michele Dunne, a former career diplomat who served in Cairo and also at the National Security Council (in the George W. Bush administration), is now a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment. She was refused entry into Egypt yesterday. Here is part of the Times story:

She was traveling to Cairo for a conference organized by the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, a generally pro-government organization composed mainly of former Egyptian diplomats.

In a telephone interview on Saturday from the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, Ms. Dunne said that security officials at the Cairo airport had stopped her upon arrival late Friday night and held her for about six hours before putting her on a flight out of the country.

When she asked why she had been detained, she said, a security official at the airport told her, “No reason, but, Madame, you cannot access Egypt any more.”

The incident appears to be the first time in decades that Egypt has turned away a Western scholar.

"First time in decades" means that neither the Mubarak nor the Morsi-Muslim Brotherhood regimes refused entry to scholars. This is a new low.

And it is of a piece with the growing repression inside Egypt. It’s not that the Sisi government is arresting Brotherhood members and trying to crush the Brotherhood; instead, the government is trying to crush all dissent, indeed all political and civic life.

The omnibus appropriations bill puts in place some human rights criteria for aid to Egypt, but allows the President to waive them all on national security grounds. With chaos in Libya and jihadis in the Sinai, Egypt faces real national security challenges. But it will not meet them by destroying political life in Egypt; that’s a formula for instability. A government of Egypt that is afraid to allow Michele Dunne to set foot in the country is an unstable regime which the United States should not be embracing. As we know from the Mubarak experience, billions of dollars in American weaponry will not save a regime that views the people of Egypt--and American scholars--as dangerous enemies who must be silenced.

More on:

Middle East and North Africa

United States

Diplomacy and International Institutions

Egypt

Human Rights

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