How Recent Protests Exposed the Authoritarian Fragility of Sisi’s Egypt

How Recent Protests Exposed the Authoritarian Fragility of Sisi’s Egypt
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during a meeting with President Donald Trump at the InterContinental Barclay hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, Sept. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The protests may have ended, but the past few weeks in Egypt have indicated that, rather than a model of authoritarian stability, the regime that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has built is one of authoritarian fragility. And the regime’s actions make clear that it knows it.

On Sept. 20, nationwide political protests broke out in Egypt for the first time since a brutal crackdown on demonstrators following the 2013 coup d’etat against President Mohamed Morsi that brought Sisi to power. The protests were sparked by a series of viral videos by an Egyptian actor and contractor named Mohamed Ali, who had worked on construction projects with the military for over a decade. In the videos, Ali, who now lives in self-imposed exiled in Spain, accused Sisi and the military of wasting state funds on building luxury hotels and lavish presidential palaces. The accusations resonated with Egyptians, at least one in three of whom live in poverty. Since Sisi signed a bailout with the International Monetary Fund in 2016, Egyptians have also been enduring years of austerity.

Sisi decided to respond directly to the accusations by doubling down. He confirmed he was indeed building presidential palaces and even intended to build more of them—not for himself but, untenably, for Egypt. “It’s all in Egypt’s name,” he told a youth conference in mid-September.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article as well as three free articles per month. You'll also receive our free email newsletter to stay up to date on all our coverage:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having your own personal researcher and analyst for news and events around the globe. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of 15,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news, analysis, and opinion from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • Your choice of weekly region-specific newsletters, delivered to your inbox.
  • Smartphone- and tablet-friendly website.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review