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Protesters chanting during a rare protests in September against President Sisi in downtown Cairo, Egypt. A rare anti-government protest in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Sept. 21, 2019 (dpa photo via AP by Oliver Weiken).

Egypt’s Sisi Is a Strong, Confident—and Vulnerable—Autocrat

Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019

Egyptians witnessed something rare last Friday night: protests against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Amid heightened repression, Egyptians have mostly stayed home ever since Sisi took power in a 2013 coup, two and a half years after mass protests had led to the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak. Sisi quickly and ruthlessly crushed any opposition, starting with the Muslim Brotherhood. He jailed Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, and other Islamist leaders, along with any perceived critics of his regime. It’s no wonder most Egyptians have opted to keep their heads down.

Friday’s protests, which unfolded in Cairo and other cities, were small but significant. Just as telling was the government’s reaction. Taken together, and in the context of some of Sisi’s foreign policy decisions, they add up to a picture of an authoritarian leader who is strong and confident, but not without vulnerabilities. ...

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