Over at LobeLog, I look at the phenomenon of Republican politicians, particularly the party’s presidential candidates, eagerly praising Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Just last week in the debate, Ted Cruz hailed Sisi’s “courage” when he “called out radical Islamic terrorists.” You know, that’s great, he gave a speech about the bad guys, cool. But Sisi has been a human rights nightmare, both for his political opposition and (ironically, since we’re supposed to believe that he’s “standing up” to radical Islam) for Egypt’s LGBTQ community. And his repression has actually made life easier for terrorists inside Egypt:
But if anything, Sisi’s performance in combating extremism has been just as dismal as his human rights record. As the Brookings Institution’s Shadi Hamid recently argued:
Sisi’s raison d’être of security and stability, however, has been undermined with each passing month. By any measurable standard, Egypt is more vulnerable to violence and insurgency today than it had been before. On July 1, as many as 64 soldiers were killed in coordinated attacks by Egypt’s Islamic State affiliate, which calls itself the Province of Sinai. It was the worst death toll in decades, and came just days after the country’s chief prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, was assassinated.
Far from alleviating the problem, Sisi’s repressive governance and his human rights abuses have only served to push his opposition, in the absence of any way to express their dissent within the political system, toward violent extremism. As Hamid notes, academic research is increasingly identifying a link between tyrannical government and terrorism, so it’s no surprise that a government as tyrannical as Sisi’s has boosted the fortunes of a group like IS’s Sinai Province.
There’s no tangible reason for anybody to be praising Sisi at this point, so of course it’s all about ideology, and money, but I don’t want to give the whole piece away. Please go read it.
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