5 April 2018
It was with the Egyptian revolutionary wave of 2011 that observers grasped the scale and implications of the Arab uprisings. It is also with Egypt’s decline into authoritarian rule that many have judged the subject closed. This issue of the magazine offers a range of critical perspectives on the present situation, providing insights into the contested terrain of political legitimacy in El-Sisi’s Egypt with power struggles pitting the regime against workers, activists, and the youthful ‘precariat’.
The magazine is going to print as the presidential election is underway in Egypt. In Insight, Maged Mandour predicts a second presidential-term for Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, with intensified political repression and economic power in the hands of the military, leading to prolonged periods of instability and mass protests.
Walter Armbrust presents liminality as a central trope in understanding what he insists was the defeat – not the failure – of the revolution after 2011. Egyptians had celebrated stepping outside the normalcy of the Mubarak era, but now face a ‘dreadful new normal’: how long can this last?
Egypt’s relentlessly neoliberal economic policy – championed by El-Sisi as energetically as by his predecessors, from Mubarak to the Military Council to Morsi – has been a major cause of popular discontent. Mohammed Mossallam examines the economic effects of the latest standby loan from the International Monetary Fund and foresees that it will deepen the economic crisis in Egypt by again prioritising short-term stabilisation at the expense of inclusive and sustainable development. Robert Springborg completes the picture by analysing different human development indicators, showing how the Egyptian state is failing to provide its people with basic welfare.
Zeinab Abul-Magd focusses on Egypt’s workers, who are placed in a kind of limbo by the military’s expansion into the economic realm. Those working in military-owned enterprises receive none of the benefits of state employees and yet are punished via military tribunals. Another group targeted has been the Muslim Brotherhood, El-Sisi’s sworn enemy since he ousted former President Mohamed Morsi following waves of popular protest. El-Sisi’s strategies of counterinsurgency and bombast have not borne fruit, and many young Islamists have become radicalised. Barbara Zollner discusses the organisation’s continued resilience in the wake of some unconfirmed reports of impending talks with the authorities.
Gilbert Achcar takes up the tragic case of Cambridge University PhD student Giulio Regeni, a victim of the atmosphere of violence and impunity in post-2011 Egypt, who was murdered in early 2016. Achcar’s cautionary piece urges solidarity with the
scholars who taught Regeni and criticises the indifference of the British and Italian
governments to his fate.
Finally, excavating debates from a different time, Omnia El Shakry’s piece provides a historical account of scholarship on criminality and psychoanalysis in post-WWII Egypt. Her article animates the interactions of Arab thinkers with their European counterparts, particularly Sigmund Freud, encouraging us to broaden our thinking on his influence and interlocutors, and highlighting the enduring engagement with international thought in Egypt’s intellectual heritage.
For further information, contact:
For more information visit The Middle East in London.