President Donald Trump greets the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, prior to their bilateral meeting, Sunday, May 21, 2017, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Ahead of Trump Meeting, Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sisi Seeks to Consolidate Power

The White House confirmed that Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is to meet President Trump at the White House on April 9. The invitation to the White House was offered amid a deepening crackdown on human rights and a further erosion of the rule of law in Egypt, nearly six years after al-Sisi ousted President Mohammad Morsi.

The White House visit comes as Egypt is facing yet another inflection point that could further ensconce al Sisi in power. At issue are a series of constitutional amendments that would effectively make al Sisi president for life and create what analyst Amy Hawthorne calls a “personalist dictatorship.”

Amy Hawthorne is the deputy director for research at the Project on Middle East Democracy and co-author of a recent Foreign Policy piece on the current tumult in Egyptian politics.. After years of crackdowns on political opposition, she explains why Egyptian politics is poised to enter a potentially more dangerous phase.

We kick off with an extended conversation about the circumstances that brought al Sisi to power, including the events of Egypt’s Arab spring and its aftermath.  We then discuss the implications of recent moves by al Sisi to further consolidate power.

We recorded this conversation a few days before it was announced that al Sisi was to visit Washington, DC on April 9th. If you are listening to this episode contemporaneously, Amy Hawthorne does a good job of setting the scene for that visit.  If you have 20 minutes and want to learn how al-Sisi has subverted democracy and undermined human rights in Egypt over the last six years, have a listen.


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