The Egyptian government refuses to acknowledge the detention of as many as 400 people in Al-Azouly prison, according to the families of those detained and investigations by Amnesty International and two Egyptian human rights groups, Global Post reports:
Inside the facility, detainees describe heinous acts of torture. They report electric shocks, burns, beatings, and hanging by the wrists, according to those released from the prison. The detainees have not been charged or referred to prosecutors, and have no means of communicating with the outside world.
Egyptian authorities deny any knowledge of Al-Azouly. “We don’t know anything about this particular prison. I heard about this prison from the press,” said Brig. Hatem Fathy, director of the International Relations Department in Egypt’s Interior Ministry. “I’m not sure if there really is a prison with that name belonging to the armed forces or not.”
The forced disappearances and allegations of severe forms of torture recall the darkest moments in the history of Egypt’s authoritarian state….
“It’s a return to the old methods,” said Diana Eltahawy of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “Not to say that torture in Egypt stopped in last three years of the revolution, but in these particular cases, the documented torture is much more severe than what we’ve seen recently in police stations or in prisons.” (RTWT)
In light of the sentencing of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt – strongly condemned by media watchdogs – Michelle Betz writes about her own experience of being on trial in Egypt, Shahira Amin looks at the blow to press freedom, while Casey Prottas attended the minute’s silence outside BBC Broadcasting House, held exactly 24 hours after the verdict was read.
Egypt’s economy is in crisis as the new military-backed regime seeks to reestablish its authority. Fiscal restructuring and austerity measures are necessary to spur economic recovery, but they may be politically difficult to pass at this time, analyst Amr Adly writes for the Carnegie Middle East Center. The new regime, therefore, will have to broaden its base and forge a more inclusive coalition of supporters in order to stabilize Egypt, retain power, and restore economic growth.
Years of political turmoil following the overthrow of then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 have exacerbated many of the country’s economic problems.
- Annual rates of growth have declined and there has been massive capital flight, which has worsened budget, balance of payment, and foreign reserve deficits.
- Despite the need for austerity measures, the leadership may not take those unpopular steps because they could undermine support for the new regime.
- The government, funded by its Arab Gulf allies, has already enacted two stimulus plans to generate employment and tackle other challenges. Most of these projects target the lower middle class and urban poor by providing low-income housing or pouring money into the modernization of slums in large urban centers.
It is unlikely that the new regime will continue to pursue a populist approach that entails providing economic entitlements while political liberties and rights are revoked.
Difficult Path Ahead
The country’s fiscal problems are not necessarily unmanageable. If the Egyptian economy resumes growth following the ascendency of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to the presidency, fiscal restructuring can proceed with bearable political cost.
- If domestic and foreign investment recover, generating higher rates of growth after three years of virtual recession is possible.
- No investor, regardless of nationality, would put money into an ailing economy in a politically unstable country. Because of this, the Egyptian government and its Arab Gulf allies will have to continue massive stimulus projects to kickstart growth and attract investors.
- Most of these projects will have a trickle-down effect, with money flowing from the military, the direct recipient of Gulf funds, to small- and medium-sized enterprises. They may be the first in a series of measures targeting these enterprises as part of a strategy to create a broader base of support.
- But forging a more inclusive coalition requires more than trickle-down processes. The government will have to reconfigure—if not partially undo—the cronyistic networks inherited from the Mubarak era.
Egypt’s deep sociopolitical crisis may provide the incentive and context for Sisi to broaden his economic support base. Yet, the fact that Egypt desperately needs these reforms does not necessarily mean they can be implemented—assuming that the strong presence of the need implies that the need can be met is falling into a functionalist trap. In fact, successive Egyptian leaders have failed to accomplish this mission since the time of Sadat and Mubarak.