Egypt’s stalled transition to democracy and the fight against the Islamic State

Comments on this week’s news on Egypt and the Islamic State

1) Egyptian President Sisi’s speech at the United Nations

The “Egyptian exception” has been described as alive and well. The international community does not seem seriously interested in promoting democracy in the North African country. Egypt’s geostrategic importance, Egyptian President Sisi’s promises to restore stability and crack down hard on terrorism, and the domestic backing for Sisi’s strongman style are convincing many world leaders to accept him and even deal with him enthusiastically, regardless of the repressive and undemocratic aspects of the Egyptian president’s regime. The prospect of a Mubarak Redux, with all the negative implications for Egypt’s long term stability, seems very real.

2) Making the enemy stronger?

For months, the two arguably most radical groups in Syria, the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and the Islamic State, has been competing for influence in the country. On several occasions, Nusra Front fighters have engaged in armed confrontations with Islamic State militants. Now, there is the risk that the US-led international military intervention may push these two radical groups back together. The other day, in fact, Al-Nusra Front leader Abu Mohamad al-Golani strongly denounced the airstrikes and warned about the possibility of retaliatory attacks against Western countries. According to Reuters, Nusra Front is now coming under pressure from its own members to reconcile with Islamic State and join forces to fight what they describe as a “crusader” campaign against Islam. Is the international military intervention unintentionally strengthening further the radical anti-Assad front in Syria?

3) On the strategy to fight the Islamic State

Hassan Hassan on the pages of the Guardian reaffirms what I have been arguing for weeks:
“Legitimacy for the fight against Isis cannot be achieved by simply having Sunni countries involved in it, but, rather, by addressing the true reasons that drove tens of thousands of Syrians to rise up against the regime.
Regardless of who is involved in the campaign, the perception is that the allies have overlooked the acts of the Assad regime over the past three years and quickly assembled a major international coalition against a group that the Syrian rebels have been fighting since last summer. Unless the strategy against Isis shifts to a broader one that appeals to the local communities, the fight against it is doomed.”
Hopefully, world leaders will listen…



  1. Jamal

    Interesting topic to debate
    These following, and vital questions have to be answered before any discussions related to the ISIS
    What is the ISIS? Who did create them? Who are they? Who support them? Who do finance them? Who do train them? Who do arm them? Who do transport them?…What are their objectives? Who do benefit from their bloodily barbaric behaviour? …..
    Be objective in your remarks for the sake of knowing the truth about the background of such mercenary groups of ISIS


  2. Charles

    As usual, the media’s interest in posting exciting and dramatic headlines to sell their respective organs appears paramount here in Eugenio’s nicely written piece: he ends with a quote from the UK Guardian newspaper, which says it all, really!

    And his last sentence is “Hopefully world leaders will listen”. There is nothing wrong with world leaders’ hearing, they simply have different national interests.

    My concern is that British, European and Western leaders do not realise what is in their best interests. Certainly not delivering victory to Assad and his Russian master. And equally not serving up Sunnis for Iran, Hizballah and China to make further gains at our expense.


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