Bottom Line Up Front Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi continues his crackdown on any dissent, real or imagined. Since anti-corruption demonstrations began in late September, the government has arrested thousands. There are widespread and credible reports of torture and indefinite detention. Meanwhile, the United States is openly supporting its ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Late last week, Lebanon erupted in protests in response to the government’s attempt to impose a tax on the popular messaging app WhatsApp. The protests have focused on a range of topics, including corruption, austerity measures, failing infrastructure, and pervasive economic mismanagement. The protests have ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In late September, protests erupted throughout Egypt in response to the widespread and systemic corruption of the regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The go-to strategy for repressive regimes throughout the region—quelling demonstrations through force while offering vague promises to assuage a litany of legitimate grievances—could ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iraq has been convulsed by growing protests this week over corruption, widespread unemployment, and the government’s inability to provide basic services. The government shut down access to the Internet, a tactic favored by repressive governments across the region, as recently witnessed during unrest in Algeria ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Exceedingly rare and courageous protests erupted throughout Egyptian cities this past weekend, with demonstrations against corruption. Corruption allegations claim that Sisi has misappropriated public funds for private use, building presidential palaces, high-end properties, and even a tomb for his deceased mother, while ordinary Egyptians struggle ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In a region where popular democratic revolutions have repeatedly been marginalized or crushed through force, Sudan appears to be on the brink of achieving something remarkable. The new agreement still leaves the military with too much power but the deal sets into motion a move ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The only consistency in the Trump administration’s Middle East policy has been to support autocratic regimes and strongmen, as it has in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Trump administration’s top national security officials met with Congress multiple times in May to discuss how the President ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Trump administration is reportedly considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). Given the history of the group and its deep roots in society and religion, the designation would complicate existing issues and comes with significant drawbacks. The Muslim Brotherhood is ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On April 16, Egypt’s parliament passed amendments to the Constitution that provide President al-Sisi with a path forward to maintain power until 2030. There is little observable public opposition to the constitutional changes, likely a result of the oppressive nature of the Egyptian government. Under ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Global arms sales are booming, with a spike caused by a years-long increase in spending from countries in the MENA region. Countries exporting arms cite the link between deterrence and stability to justify these sales, while often downplaying the role these weapons play in helping ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Time favors strongman regimes, as leaders alternate between stalling tactics, physical violence and belated promises of reform to attenuate protesters’ momentum. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would not run for a fifth term, instead postponing elections originally scheduled for next month. Widespread protests ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Even after the collapse of the territorial caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State will live on through its franchise and affiliate groups. Among the most capable affiliates are those in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the Islamic State Khorasan Province in Afghanistan and IS’ branch ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities enable it to project power while compensating for an otherwise modest conventional military capacity. Iran’s supply of missiles to regional armed factions have helped these groups morph into significant threats to American interests and allies. The fielding of Iranian-supplied missiles by ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On January 10, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech in Cairo, Egypt that portrayed the U.S. as a force for good in the region. The speech was a direct repudiation of former President Obama and his administration’s policies in the region, especially ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On November 4, Egyptian officials announced they had killed 19 militants in the aftermath of an attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt. On November 2, attackers ambushed 3 buses carrying Coptic Christians south of Cairo, killing seven people; the Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility. In ...

Bottom Line Up Front Although it receives less attention than the so-called Islamic State or IS franchise groups in places like Libya and Afghanistan, the IS affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula poses a major threat to regional stability. Despite boasting the Arab world’s largest conventional ground force, the Egyptian military ...

Bottom Line: Relations between Egypt and Israel have often been referred to as a “cold peace,” but the emergence of mutual security threats over the past few years has facilitated a growing partnership between the former enemies. Specifically, Egypt and Israel have expanded their cooperation on the security front to combat ...

The Friday prayer massacre of more than 300 worshipers at a Sinai was a departure for the local Islamic State affiliate in scale, but not in targets – they’ve hit Sufi Muslims before. The group’s continued growth in the Sinai points to decades of neglect by the Egyptian government, combined ...

Friday’s deadly terrorist attack at the Al-Rawda mosque in the north of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula demonstrates that the so-called Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate remains a potent force and raises questions about the effectiveness of Egypt’s harsh four-year anti-ISIS campaign. Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi has pledged to stay the course ...

On Friday, militants carried out a devastating attack at a mosque in the city of Bir al-Abed located in Egypt’s northern Sinai province, leaving at least 230 dead and more than 100 others injured. According to local police, gunmen arrived in four vehicles and bombed the mosque, which was packed ...

At least 18 Egyptian policemen were killed Monday in an ISIS attack on a security convoy in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Over the last few years, ISIS’ Sinai affiliate has conducted frequent attacks against Egyptian military and security forces deployed in the Sinai and has also struck in Cairo, carrying out ...

Despite its role as a critical partner for the U.S. in the global fight against terror, Egypt has struggled to quash an extremist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, which has had devastating effects on the country’s security apparatus and economic health. Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi has pledged to continue ...

As a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, Egypt has played an integral role in helping to combat the region’s terrorist threat, particularly since Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi came to power in June 2014. However, Egypt is facing a daunting terrorist challenge of its own, primarily in the ...

Last November, Egypt’s Central Bank announced it was taking steps to allow the pound to trade freely on the currency market. The move to float was widely regarded as a necessary, but incredibly difficult one. The Central Bank had held the pound at around eight to the dollar; today it ...

The U.S. is withholding millions of dollars in military and economic aid to Egypt, citing human rights concerns. “The funds that would normally go to Egypt … will be held in reserve until we can see progress on democracy,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Wednesday. The U.S. is ...

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia Saturday with a packed agenda. He will conclude a $109.7 billion arms agreement with Riyadh, discuss opportunities for enhanced U.S.-Saudi economic cooperation, and address the leaders of over 50 Muslim-majority countries at the Arab-American-Islamic summit, which Riyadh hosts Sunday. While many leaders ...

Usage of the term political Islam has become common in recent years as Islamist movements vie for influence in a changing Middle East. However, the expression means very different things to different people It is often used to refer to a wide spectrum of Islamist groups, from the Muslim Brotherhood ...

The term “political Islam” has become commonplace after the Arab uprisings of 2011, during which Islamist groups rose to political prominence across the Middle East and North Africa. But what does “political Islam” really mean, and should Westerners fear it? For most observers, the term refers to relatively moderate Islamist ...

The concept of political Islam has deep historical roots in Islamic societies and, during the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 in the Middle East and North Africa, many moderate political Islamist groups rose to prominence. In Egypt, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood won the presidency.  Since then, however, Morsi ...

Sunday’s horrific terrorist attacks on Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria during Palm Sunday services, in which dozens have been killed and many more injured, should convince the Egyptian military to update its strategy against jihadis based in the Sinai Peninsula. While these aren’t the first bombings for which the Islamic State’s ...

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi is at the White House on Monday with the high hopes of receiving strong support from U.S. President Donald Trump. One of the major issues that the Egyptian President will surely stress to attain this favor is the sustainment of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. While ...

President Donald Trump and his cabinet are pondering an executive order to add the Muslim Brotherhood to the United States’ Foreign Terrorist Organization list. Yet such a designation would appear to have one critical flaw: it is hard to explain what the term “Muslim Brotherhood” precisely means. In Egypt, for ...

The Trump Administration is considering whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood – a movement that espouses a doctrine of political Islam and has millions of supporters across the Middle East – as a terrorist organization. But experts caution about the potential for unintended consequences, backlash, and legal challenges to such ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Michele Dunne, Director and Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Middle East Center, to discuss the potential implications of the U.S. State Department designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. According to Dunne, such a move may actually backfire and ...

The Muslim Brotherhood preaches a violent, exclusivist ideology.  Its websites and social media accounts are chock-full of anti-Christian and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.  Its affiliated networks in Istanbul have threatened foreign nationals in Egypt.  Its leading figures and platforms have embraced violence and martyrdom explicitly. And its motto – which concludes with “jihad is our way, death for the sake of Allah ...

Six years after Egyptians rose up against the political authoritarianism and economic incompetence of the Mubarak regime, the potential transfer of two strategic islands to Saudi Arabia serves as a bitter reminder that, since the heady days of 2011, things have only gotten worse. Since Egyptians woke up on 8 ...

In a surprising move last week, Egypt postponed a UN Security Council vote on a resolution it had proposed demanding an end to Israeli settlement building in the West Bank. Although the resolution eventually passed, the event provided another of example of the increasingly close cooperation between Egypt and Israel. ...

Although relations between Egypt and Israel have often been referred to as a “cold peace,” the emergence of mutual security threats over the past few years has facilitated a growing partnership between the former enemies. In fact, since Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi assumed office in June 2014, many foreign ...

The Cipher Brief spoke to Perry Cammack, a fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, about the current state of Egypt-Israeli relations. According to Cammack, Egypt-Israeli security cooperation has “in many ways never been better” and that the relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin ...

Despite a historically tenuous relationship, current ties between Israel and Egypt are far better, explains David Schenker, Director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. In an interview with The Cipher Brief, Schenker explained that while “cooperation on the Sinai has largely driven ...

When the Arab Spring reached Egypt in January 2011, sparking unprecedented mass protests in Tahrir Square and across the country, calls for democratic reform and liberation from authoritarian rule seemed to dominate the revolutionary movement. However, it was not just political demands that brought millions to the street to protest ...

November has arrived, and with it, the long-anticipated devaluation of the Egyptian pound. Precipitated by weeks of growing panic in the currency market, the measure was an integral reform needed to secure the disbursal of a 12 billion USD loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), finally inked last Friday. ...

Two weeks ago, Egypt appeared to be on the brink. The Egyptian pound, which sold at 5.9 LE/$ at the time of Egypt’s January 2011 “Arab Spring” uprising, had fallen to 8.9 LE/$ on November 2, while traders were buying dollars for 18.2 LE/$ on the black market.  Meanwhile, as revenue ...

After a brief moment in the sunshine four years ago, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has retreated deep into the shadows under perhaps the most severe government crackdown against the group since the 1970s. As this crackdown expands far beyond the Islamist group, and more violent extremism takes hold in ...

August 14 2013 was the most violent day in contemporary Egyptian history.  Security forces brutally dispersed demonstrations in northern Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square and Giza’s al-Nahda Square, killing hundreds of Islamists who were protesting the ouster of Egypt’s first elected president, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, six weeks earlier. Human Rights ...

Three years ago on August 14, 2013, nearly 1000 Islamist protesters were killed by Egyptian security forces in Rabaa and Nahda squares in Egypt’s capital. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its Islamist allies had camped out to protest the popularly-backed coup that ousted the Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi the previous ...

Islamic militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) in November 2014, after a deadly attack on Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula. The group, based in Sinai and now known as ISIS-Sinai Province, has escalated attacks over the past ...

The U.S. government has continued providing military support to Egypt despite the 2013 military coup that overthrew then-president Mohamed Morsi. Moreover, the U.S. State Department and Department of Defense have failed to conduct proper vetting of human rights violations by Egyptian forces that receive U.S. aid, according to a recently ...

The U.S. and Egypt remain allies  although relations have been strained since the 2011 Egyptian revolution, which resulted in the ousting of then-President Hosni Mubarak. Since then there was  a brief period of military rule, the election and subsequent ousting of former President Mohamed Morsi, a transitional government led by ...

Confronted with instability in neighboring Libya, a civil war to its south in Sudan, and an ISIS affiliate taking root in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt’s deteriorating security environment has pushed the country’s economy to the brink. Yesterday’s hijacking of an EgyptAir flight, which comes six months after the downing of ...