Egypt 2008

Egypt Between 1999 and 2006

In September 1999 M.Ḥ. Mubārak was reconfirmed president of the Republic. His fourth term coincided with one of the most critical periods in the recent history of Egypt, both due to the worsening of internal tensions and the economic crisis as well as to the progressive decline of the traditionally recognized role of this country in the Middle Eastern scenario, especially regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. If still in 1999 the Egypt it proposed itself as an authoritative intermediary in the peace process and hosted in Šarm al-Šayẖ (September) the meeting between Egypt Barak and Y. ̔Arafāt, the degenerate of the negotiations, with the meetings of Camp David II (July 2000) and ṭābā, in Sinai (Jan 2001), the start of the second intif ā ḍ a and the election of A. Sharon as Israeli prime minister contributed to weakening the country’s influence and the leading role it had long played within the Arab League for the benefit of Israel. Saudi Arabia, which promoted a peace initiative adopted at the Beirut summit in March 2002. Even the meeting that took place, on Egyptian initiative, in Šarm al-Šayẖ (February 2003) turned out to be a defeat for Mubārak who was unable to impose a common position that would avert the military aggression of Irāq. In July 2003, Egypt he was also excluded from the summit held in ̔Aqaba, in which GW Bush also took part.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the invasion of Irāq did not fail to have strong repercussions within the country. The first caused an ever deeper rift within the political class and aroused the protest of the civilian population. The Israeli military operation in Ramallah (April-May 2002), in particular, provoked demonstrations in Egyptian universities, in Cairo and Alexandria, which were brutally repressed by the police. Popular resentment was exacerbated by Mubārak’s alignment with the Anglo-American position, which placed responsibility for the military attack in ̔Irāq on. Ḥusayn.

Furthermore, relations between Egypt and Israel worsened; the withdrawal of the Egyptian ambassador to Tel Aviv (Nov. 2000) was followed by the arrest of the Egyptian engineer Šarīf F. al-Fīlālī, accused of espionage in the service of Israel and sentenced (March 2002) to 15 years in prison and to forced works. In further confirmation of the condemnation of Sharon’s policy, Egypt suspended (April 2002) all non-diplomatic contact with the Jewish state.

With the downsizing of the Egyptian authority in the mediation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even the country’s traditional friendship with the United States (which since 1978 has provided Egypt compromised by the court case involving Sa̔d al-Dīn Ibrāhīm, sociologist and activist in the field of human rights of Egyptian-US citizenship, director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Social Development Studies (ICDS). Arrested in June 2000 (along with 27 employees of the center) on charges of having received large funding from the European Commission without official authorization and of having discredited the government with a documentary on electoral procedures, was sentenced to seven years in prison and forced labor, sentence confirmed on appeal (July 2002). The case provoked bitter international protests and the United States announced the suspension of an additional credit in favor of Egypt (equal to 130 million dollars); in December, however, a third trial was ordered which, in March 2003, cleared both Ibrāhīm and the other employees of the Ibn Khaldun center from all charges.

In the early 20th century the repression of Islamic fundamentalism remained one of the concerns that most influenced the internal politics of Egypt. Despite the unilateral truce announced in 1997 by the fundamentalist movements of ǧ ih ā d (Holy War) and Ǧ am ā ̔ at al-Isl ā miyya (Islamic Group), and confirmed by the latter in 1999, the arrests and trials continued. belonging to Islamist organizations; in February 2000 the state of emergency was reconfirmed, proclaimed – and never revoked – in 1981, in the aftermath of the assassination of President A. al-Sādāt. In April 1999, the suspension of the daily al- Š a ̔ b was decided and, a few months later, the activity of the Labor Party was banned, which in fact gave a voice to the Muslim Brotherhood (al- Iẖw ā n al-Muslim ū n), a political organization founded in Egypt in 1928 by Ḥasan al-Bannā̓ and inspired by a radical Islamic fundamentalism banned since 1954. Despite the exclusion of the Labor Party from the legislative elections of November 2000, these revealed the complexity of the situation: although the National Democratic Party once again obtained an absolute majority (388 seats out of 444), the allocation of 37 seats to independent candidates, about half made up of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, was particularly significant.. The repressive measures against fundamentalism worsened in the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001 in New York, the World Trade Center, and Washington, in relation to which the leading role played by members of the ǧ ih ā dEgyptian, in particular by M. ̔Aṭṭa al-Sayyid, alleged leader of the Twin Towers bombers. Seven years after the Luxor attacks, 2004 marked a dramatic resumption of terrorist attacks in the country, especially in tourist resorts in the Sinai; the most serious those occurred in ṭābā (October 2004, 34 dead), in Šarm al-Šayẖ (July 2005, 88 dead), in Dahab (April 2006, 23 dead). For Egypt 2008, please check

The violation of civil rights was one of the reasons that on several occasions he recalled on the Egypt international attention. The arrest of 52 homosexuals in a restaurant in Cairo (May 2001), accused by the Security Court for the state of emergency of immoral acts and offending religion, caused a particular sensation.

In view of the presidential elections of September 2005, Mubārak announced (February) a modification of the electoral law aimed at favoring the opening to other candidates; the reform, approved by a referendum (May) – boycotted by most of the opposition – and by the People’s Assembly (June), was intended to guarantee democratic conditions for voting, but in fact imposed restrictions such as to hinder the participation of both the candidates of the opposition both to independent candidates. Marked by a very low percentage of voters, the elections assigned the victory to the outgoing president with 86.4 % of the votes, while his main opponent, A. Nūr, leader of the al- ġ ad (Tomorrow) party, obtained the 7, 4 % of preferences. The legislative elections held in November-December of the same year recorded, however, a contraction in the consensus of the National Democratic Party – at the helm of which it had sat since September 2002 ǧ. Mubārak, son of the president – who had 311 seats assigned (77 fewer than in the 2000 ballots), still managing to secure a two-thirds majority in the People’s Assembly; unexpected was, however, the success of the independent candidates, originally belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood movement, who won 88 seats, making it the main opposition bloc. To stem the growing influence of Islamist fringes in the country’s politics, the government decided to postpone municipal elections by two years.

The sentence of A. Nūr (January 2006) to 15 years in prison on charges of falsifying documents in the registration of his party further undermined relations with the United States, which suspended negotiations on a trade agreement particularly coveted by the Egypt.

Egypt 2008