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Egypt’s Continued Regression

Stop U.S. Support for the Repressive Regime in Egypt

Since taking power in July of 2013 the government of al-Sisi has instituted what is arguably a regime as repressive as Mubarak’s. The regime has overseen the imprisonment of 16,000 people, 1000 deaths, the banning of protest, elimination of the free press, and crackdowns on many groups including student led organizations. Recently al-Sisi forced press leaders to promise not to criticize the state. Despite this, terrorism has only gotten worse with hundreds of police and soldiers dying to attacks, especially in the Sinai region. The Obama administration had downplayed the abuses and Secretary of State John Kerry has stated that Egypt is being led towards democracy.

Egypt Orders Evacuation Along Gaza Border to Thwart Militants

The Egyptian government has ordered the forced evacuation of homes along the 9 mile border with the Gaza strip. The homes will be demolished to make room for a 500 yard wide buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza that includes water-filled trenches to stop tunnel diggers. This buffer zone is designed to stop the flow of arms and militants from Gaza into Egypt which authorities believe are responsible for the rise in terrorism in the Sinai peninsula. This is primarily a response to the October 24th terrorist attack that killed 31 soldiers in eastern Sinai.

Despite Promises Egypt Continues on its Oppressive Path

When al-Sisi took over after the 2013 coup he promised to loosen restrictions on protest and release political prisoners, some of whom have been locked up since the 2011 protests.  Instead restrictions on speech, protest, and the press have increased. A few high profile prisoners were released in early September bringing hope of change but those were quickly dashed after several waves of arrests including the arrest of dozens of students before the start of the school year in order to quash potential student protests. This and other restrictions are supposedly to stop terrorism but terrorism in Sinai has only gotten worse, prompting an exclusion zone to be established that forced hundreds from their homes. It is in my opinion that al-Sisi is consolidating power and I will be genuinely surprised if he allows general elections in the time he promised to the UN. So far most of the West and the US have ignored or downplayed the abuses, most likely because Egypt is an important ally in Israeli-Palestinian relations and the threat of ISIL is perceived as the greatest issue in the Middle East. If the timeline for general elections rolls around and there is no transfer of power than  the US will be faced with a difficult choice. ISIS gains more power everyday and Israeli relations with Palestine are shaky at best, will the US risk these issues in which Egypt is a key player to instill change or will they ignore it and focus on the broader issues of the Middle East?

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