International Spotlight: Sisi’s Egypt Admires the West

Mathew Sayer From our Perspective

Egypt! Check out A -through-D at the bottom. Egypt has undergone a tumultuous transformation in the last five years. The current President Fatah Al-Sisi represents a snap back to the strongman politics of the 20th century using 21st-century techniques to quell dissent.


Egypt is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. History in the country dates back to the 10th millennium BC. Being around for so long means that the country has a range of influences including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European. Islam has been the dominant religion in Egypt since the 7th century.

Fast forwarding somewhat Egypt was a colonial hotspot thanks to its geographic position at regional chokepoints. France and Britain exercised control in the region for centuries, with puppet governments holding the reins while massive projects like the Suez Canal were created to profit ostensibly.

An Egyptian nationalist movement rose following the end of World War I, the UK government issued a unilateral declaration of Egyptian independence on February 22, 1922. A conflict between secular, military and religious groups has been constant in the country. After World War II Egypt was ruled by a string of strongman leaders interspersed with regional conflicts- often involving Israel.

Today the country is the most populous in North Africa and the Arabic world. Due to the severity of the climate 98% of Egyptian’s live on 3% of the territory. Egypt had been a huge tourist hotspot, but numbers have trailed off following the War on Terror. Governmental departments or agencies often run other industries in the country to finance themselves.


The Arab Spring put in power the Muslim Brotherhood, concerns about the religious nature of the group prompted a coup, followed by a period of interim military rule, elections and the rise of Fatah Al-Sisi.

Al-Sisi, the President of Egypt, has shifted Egypt’s governance strategy to emulate “other democracies around the world” (The Intercept). The US and the UK are the models of what Egypt hopes to achieve. Last year the High Council for Cyber Security was established to control further internet activity in Egypt, something that is already heavily monitored thanks to the technology reportedly sold to the government by Western cybersecurity companies.

Despite being wealthy Egypt is rife with inequality. Facebook’s Free Basics service was blocked by the government, apparently due to licensing issues. Other sources claim that it was Facebook’s encryption that brought about the block.

Blocking access and monitoring are not the end game for Egyptian government officials. Many bloggers and activists have been imprisoned or subject to violence. Needless to say, the services that allow for the remote access and control of technology greatly aids this process.

The targets of surveillance tend to be anyone who gets in the way, whether it is Muslim Brotherhood or members of people from the LGBT community. Relations between Egypt and the West are rosy again after the furrowed brows during the MB period. By looking at those who emulate you, can you reveal what you are. Sisi’s new surveillance state is just his attempt at copying the best in the business.

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