Thousands of mainly young Egyptians took to the streets of Cairo and Egypt’s provincial centres on 20 September 2019. They protested against the repressive regime of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the corruption that is its hallmark. The protest was met with some surprise. Sisi’s repressive regime has clamped down on all dissent since it came to power following a military coup in 2013. Extensive and systematic torture of anyone deemed to oppose the government has become a feature of Egyptian politics and the regime has received support from, among others, erstwhile UK prime minister Tony Blair, and ex-International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief, now head of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde. The message seems clear from Washington and Europe: stability at all costs for the imperial triad irrespective, at least for the moment, of torturous treatment of Egyptians as long as law and (dis)order is maintained and there is no threat from Islamists or challenge to Israel. Continued US military support underpins Sisi’s bestial regime that draws on Egypt’s strategic rent to buttress repression. The heady days of the previous 30-year dictator Hosni Mubarak and his regime of a ‘democracy of newspapers’ where criticism could be voiced, as long as it did not involve the ‘royal’ Mubarak family, may now be lamented.
Street protest and demonstrations in autumn 2019 followed […]