US Secretary of State John Kerry is on a tour of the Middle East rallying support for the fight against ISIL. Egypt is part of a 10 state Middle Eastern coalition dedicated to eradicating ISIL. Kerry said Egypt has a, “Key role,” in defeating ISIL due to their success in dealing with Sinai jihadists, he also acknowledged that Egypt is the cultural and intellectual capitol of the Middle East implying that they can resist IS’s influence.
Several political parties and journalists have begun hunger strikes in protest of prisoners locked up under the draconian anti-protest law enacted after Morsi was deposed by the military. The law has drawn international criticism and the post-Morsi period saw violent crackdowns, torture, and executions that some say rival the darkest days of the Mubarak presidency.
As ISIL continues to gain traction in the Middle East the West is once again turning to Egypt as a bastion of stability in the Middle East and a key player in the fight against extremism. At the same time Egypt is dealing with human rights issues of its own as hunger strikes draw attention to the numerous political prisoners locked up due to the controversial anti-protest law passed in the wake of Morsi’s ousting. This draws attention to the larger issue that the West, and particularly the US, faces when combating extremism. Many countries in the Middle East such as Egypt, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia are important allies in the fight against terrorism but these countries often have questionable human rights records. This forces Western powers into a balancing act of giving aid to unwholesome regimes while at the same time coercing human rights reforms without alienating those countries. In Egypt’s situation the current president is set to address the UN and as the West sees it, ISIL is a big enough threat that Egypt’s human rights issues will for now be in the background.