United Arab Emirates (UAE) foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan addressed the 69th United Nations General Assembly about the importance of Egypt in maintaining the stability of the Middle East. He called out several countries for questioning the legitimacy of al-Sisi’s government, saying that the it was, “freely elected by its people.” During his speech at the General Assembly, Turkey’s President Erdogan was highly critical of the ousting of Morsi which prompted Egypt to cancel a scheduled bilateral meeting between the two and drew criticism from the Arab League. The UAE has been a strong supporter of Egypt since Morsi’s ousting and has pledged $5 billion in aid and an additional $225 million in fuel shipments to Egypt.
In the week leading up to September 28th, the Egyptian army has killed 26 terrorists and arrested 84 others. The operations took place mainly in and around the Sinai peninsula and included the destruction of 18 cross-border tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. In addition they thwarted the illegal immigration of 148 people. This was part of a larger ongoing operation against unknown militants in Sinai that rose up after the ousting of Mohamed Morsi last summer.
Egypt as a Pillar of Regional Stability
Ever since Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979 it has been seen by many Middle Eastern countries and the West as a symbol of stability. Egypt cooperates with the West, for a long time had a fairly stable economy, and suppresses Islamist uprisings, going so far as to nearly banning the Muslim Brotherhood. The Arab Spring uprisings threatened the stability of the Middle East despite bringing about much needed change in many countries. There were some success stories like Tunisia and some disasters such as Syria and Libya. Egypt was somewhere in between. The transfer of power was messy and took longer than expected and even then the new Morsi government was quickly deposed by the military who now controls Egypt.
What these two articles show is that many in the Arab world are once again looking to Egypt as a pillar of stability. Especially in the face of ISIL. Egypt still has internal struggles though. The Sinai Peninsula is largely tribal and has seen increased violence. This coupled with internal struggles and human rights issues does not paint Egypt in the best of light. Despite this, criticizing the new government isn’t going to help with anything. The UAE foreign minister realizes this. Egypt has its issues but with the threat of ISIL destabilizing the Middle East it is not the time to push for governmental reforms or criticize those in power. ISIL is a regional threat that requires strong and focused governments. Another power shuffle would only be in ISIL’s and other extremists’ advantage.