The long-delayed elections to the country’s national parliament, which was dissolved in 2012, are, according to President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, an effort to strengthen democracy in the country of 82m souls. Sisi is a former general who led the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, following months of unrest, but this election seems more relevant on the world stage than many others involving just another African junta. His assertion that the election will advance democracy is pretty questionable too as Mr Morsi’s party, the Muslim Brotherhood, is banned and its leaders are in jail — and some face death sentences.
This situation seems likely to continue the radicalisation of Islam rather than restore some sort of equilibrium. This threat has been recognised by Barack Obama who, earlier this year, restored Egypt’s $1.5bn (€1.15bn) annual military funding package. This hardly seems an ideal way to foster democray and the idealism, or what is left of it, generated by the Arab Spring. Egypt remains the second-largest recipient of US foreign military financing, behind Israel. That support was not unconditional and yesterday’s elections might not have taken place without White House pressure. The result will not announced until December. How Egyptians deal with a profoundly anti-democratic force by democratic means is a question we may all have to eventually face.
Saturday, June 19, 2021