Monday, February 09, 2015

Egypt Under Al-Sisi

"At al-Azhar, President al-Sisi was saying it is not merely an extremist interpretation of Islam that is threatening the world with global jihad, but ideas that are at the core of the mainstream, orthodox understanding of the religion--and that this would require a "religious revolution" to change.

At the Coptic Cathedral, he urged Egyptians not to define themselves by their religion, be it Christian or Muslim, but by the fact that they are Egyptians--a rejection of Islamism, which defines national identity in purely religious terms.

To the world, he was saying that Islam as it is being taught and practiced by its leading religious scholars has given birth to a globally destructive ideology which is now threatening us all.

Moreover, he wants to launch a movement within Islam to save the religion from itself, that is, before it tears itself apart completely and the rest of the world destroys it in self-defense."
[---]
"Al-Sisi is still so popular, the public so widely disgusted with the unending social and political chaos since the 2011 revolution, and so alarmed by the terrorist insurgency waged by the Islamists, that probably a majority of news editors and perhaps also of reporters have decided to support him completely and to oppose his critics automatically. At this point it is hard to find any clear connection with al-Sisi himself to this consensus, enshrined in a declaration by several hundred key media figures a few months ago. However, certainly if he didn't like it he could well speak up against it--yet he hasn't so far."
Good luck with that. I'll believe it when I see it.
"...if al-Sisi truly has established such a doctrine for stability, it would consist of the following:

Anti-Islamism—i.e. a more limited role for Shariah (which is nonetheless still enshrined in the new constitution, yet no longer to be interpreted by the clerics at al-Azhar, but by the government, whose authority and much of its outlook is secular, not religious;
Electoral democracy though with somewhat limited civil liberties, to satisfy both the demand for popular sovereignty and for an end to the endless chaos--strikes and demonstrations (and skyrocketing crime) since the fall of Mubarak in 2011, and to limit the public role of the Islamists, who are at war with Egypt; and
An independent foreign policy—one that still seeks to maintain the traditional alliance with the U.S. and the West, but is not afraid to go elsewhere as needed."
[---]
"Unlike Morsi and the MB, who worked covertly with the terrorists in Sinai, al-Sisi wholeheartedly supports the peace with Israel. He has greatly increased security cooperation with the Jewish state—which had been endangered in the 2011-12 transition and during the Morsi era—to levels exceeding those under Mubarak. Again, even more than Mubarak, who loathed them too, al-Sisi sees the MB, Hamas and their Islamist allies as threats to Egypt as well as Israel. Likewise, he sees Iran—with whom Morsi sought a rapprochement—as Egypt's greatest strategic adversary in the region.

As a result, Egypt is now in an informal alliance with Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to confront Iran. That alliance is compromised, however, by recent moves from Egypt's Gulf partners to mend fences with Iran as a result of their feeling exposed by Washington's alarming pivot toward Tehran at the expense of its traditional Sunni clients."

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