Egypt (2011 – first combat deaths)

Tasneem Jamal Mideast

Updated June 2015

Egyptmap
Conflict at a Glance

Who (are the main combatants): The main combatants since 2011 have changed with successive governments.

  1. Mubarak Regime (1981-February 2011): President Hosni Mubarak’s government, supported by the National Democratic Party and pro-Mubarak groups, fought to remain in power against anti-Mubarak groups and the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). Protestors complained of abuses by the SCAF.
  2. SCAF Interim government (February 2011-June 2012): Chairman of the SCAF and Commander of Egypt’s Armed Forces Mohamed Hussein Tantawi was president. During his term in office he was challenged by protesters displeased with the pace of reform.
  3. Morsi Presidency (June 2012-July 2013): President Mohammed Morsi’s elected government, supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Morsi supporters, was opposed by the SCAF, National Salvation Front, and anti-Morsi supporters.
  4. Return of SCAF Interim Government (July 4, 2013-June 2014): Head of the Supreme Constitutional Court Adly Mansour became president on July 4, 2013 when SCAF removed the democratically elected government, Mansour’s presidency was challenged by the Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Morsi supporters.
  5. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (June 2014-present): Al-Sisi was elected president of Egypt in June 2014. He is the former Field Marshal of the Supreme Council of the SCAF. This government is opposed by the Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Morsi supporters.

What (started the conflict): The revolution in Egypt attempted to mirror the successes seen in Tunisia where the “Arab Spring” movement began. After 30 years of authoritarian rule by President Mubarak, in early 2011 Egyptians took to the streets to oust the president. Violent protests that took place in January and February reportedly resulted in 846 people dead and 8,000 injured. Following Mubarak’s resignation on February 11, 2011 the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) took control of the government and installed Chairman Mohamed Hussein Tantawi as interim head of state pending presidential elections in June 2012. When President Mohammed Morsi was elected, he was generally viewed as Egypt’s first democratically elected president. However, ongoing disagreements with the National Salvation Front and the SCAF led to a coup d’état on July 3, 2013 and the SCAF again assumed control of the government. Violent protests in August resulted in more than 1,000 deaths.

When (has fighting occurred): Egypt became a U.K. protectorate in 1922. After gaining independence in 1954 Egypt was generally controlled by corrupt leaders who abused their powers. The contemporary conflict began on January 25, 2011 with protests that led to the ousting of President Mubarak, head of state from 1981 to 2011. Mubarak’s removal did not bring political stability and his successor, Morsi, was removed on July 3, 2013. Upheaval continues.

Where (is the conflict taking place): Conflict has occurred throughout the country, but most intensely in the major cities: Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez. Many protests have been held in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Insurgent groups are active in the Sinai Peninsula.

Summary
Type of Conflict
Parties to the Conflict
Status of the Fighting
Number of Deaths
Political Developments
Background
Arms Sources

Economic

Summary

2015 Egyptians participated in parliamentary elections in the fall, although the rate of voter turnout was relatively low. Sinai Province emerged as the most active insurgent force in Egypt, with the intensity and coordination of their attacks increasing. Most attacks by this group took place in North Sinai. The government cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood with more than 200 sentenced to prison or death. New counter-terrorism legislation gave the state additional power and criminalized public statements against the national defence ministry. This legislation was criticized by international rights organizations, including Amnesty International, which claimed that undercut rights of freedom of speech and association.  

2014 More than 41,000 people were reportedly arrested or charged with criminal offences between July 2013 and May 2014. Former Defence Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became president in June after a landslide victory in the May elections. Human rights groups reported setbacks in human rights, such as violations of basic freedoms and the use of excessive force by police. The Egyptian people voted to amend the 2012 Egyptian constitution in January. A presidential decree in February made the Defence Minister head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). In October, President al-Sisi expanded the jurisdiction of military courts to try civilians. Fighting continued in the Sinai Peninsula. In November, insurgent group Ansar Beit-Al Maqdis (ABM) pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and renamed itself Sinai Province. Two new rebel groups emerged after factions split from the ABM. There were more than 440 conflict-related deaths—a marked decrease from the previous year.

2013 Egypt experienced severe internal unrest and violent protests. The government’s inability to make coherent reforms, increasing shortages of food and fuel, and growing inflation were all reasons cited for the protests. Twenty-two million supporters of Tamarrud (“rebellion” movement) signed petitions to oust President Morsi and 25 million followers of Tagarrud (“impartiality” movement) supported Morsi. Growing tensions between the elected Muslim Brotherhood, the National Salvation Front and the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) led to the forced removal of President Morsi on July 3 in a military coup d’état. Adly Mansour, head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, became the Interim president. Parliament was dissolved, the constitution reviewed, and the cabinet re-shuffled to remove all Islamists. Following the coup, protests became increasingly violent; in August clashes resulted in more than 1,000 deaths.

Foreign countries viewed the coup as illegal because it overthrew a democratically elected government. In August, the European Union condemned the violence used by security forces against civilians and declared an arms embargo against Egypt. In response to continuous protests the Interim government created a law in November that restricted mass demonstrations and freedom of assembly. On December 25 the government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

2012 Protesters continued to pressure the government to make quicker reforms, but the death toll declined significantly. To demonstrate progress the Interim government partially lifted the State Emergency Ban in January and removed it entirely on May 31. The Interim government also released 3,000 prisoners in January. In early February 74 football fans were killed in Port Said by alleged thugs from the rival team; further clashes between civilians and police killed 12 people. Former president Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison on June 2. Presidential elections held June 16-17 were won by the Muslim Brotherhood; leader Mohammed Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected head of state. Following his election tensions grew between the Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of Armed Forces. Allegations arose that Morsi was attempting to create an Islamic state when a large number of Muslims were appointed to the Constituent Assembly. The first draft of a new constitution was released October 10; the constitution was signed by President Morsi on December 25, but was widely considered illegitimate.

2011 Inspired in part by events that took place in Tunisia, in January Egyptians began to protest i30 years of authoritarian rule under President Mubarak. The protests became increasingly violent; according to an internal report released in April, 846 protesters were killed and more than 8,000 injured in January and February. After 18 days of violent unrest President Mubarak stepped down on February 11 and the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) formed an Interim government. Two days later, the SCAF dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution. The formally banned Muslim Brotherhood formed the Non-Theocratic Freedom and Justice Party in April, which was recognized by the Interim government on June 7. Egyptians urged the Interim government to hold security officials accountable for human rights violations committed during the protests. Former President Mubarak’s trial began in August and parliamentary elections were held in November. Approximately 984 Egyptians died and more than 12,700 were injured during Mubarak’s removal.

Type of Conflict

State Control

Parties to the Conflict

1. Government of Egypt: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, former Field Marshal of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), was elected president in June 2014, replacing interim president Adly Mansour. A military coup d’état on July 3, 2013 deposed President Morsi, who was subsequently placed on trial. Before Morsi, President Mubarak was head of state for 30 years until the 2011 revolution; he was forced to resign and later sentenced to life in prison for complicity in the killing of protesters in 2011, but was acquitted during retrial in November 2014.

Political parties opposed to or included in the government at different times are:

2. National Democratic Party (NDP): The NDP, described as an authoritarian centrist party, was founded by Anwar Sadat in 1978. He was succeeded as president by Hosni Mubarak, who led the NDP from 1981- 2011. The NDP became a member of Socialist International in 1989. Following the continued failure of the NDP to address the needs of Egyptian civilians, in January 2011 the Socialist International’s secretary-general, Luis Ayala, revoked the NDP’s membership. Following protests in January and February 2011 President Mubarak stepped down and the Supreme Administrative Council dissolved the NDP.

3. Muslim Brotherhood: The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-banna on Islamic beliefs and became known for political activism. It was considered an illegitimate organization until the fall of President Mubarak in 2011. In April 2011 the Muslim Brotherhood formed the Non-Theocratic Freedom and Justice party that was formally recognized by the Interim government on June 7, 2011. The Muslim Brotherhood won Egypt’s first democratic elections and its leader Mohammed Morsi became President. Following questionable reforms that gave him unlimited power to make changes within the country, including imposing Islamic beliefs, Morsi was overthrown by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces on July 3, 2013. In December 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organization by the new Interim government.

4. National Salvation Front (NSF): The NSF was born on November 24, 2012 in response to President Morsi’s questionable policies and moves to instill an Islamic government. Led by Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi, the NSF is a coalition of more than 35 Egyptian political parties. The NSF is a rare demonstration of solidarity in Egyptian politics, although it has been suggested that its large membership makes it difficult to present a clear viewpoint. The NSF was criticized by many Egyptians for its support of the violence used against Morsi supporters following the coup.

5. Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF): SCAF is comprised of 23 military generals from the army, navy, air force, air defence, and military intelligence. In 2014, a presidential decree made the defence minister, rather than the president, the head of SCAF. After the 2011 revolution the Council took control of Egypt; SCAF Chairman Mohamed Hussein Tantawi was installed as interim president. After the June 2012 presidential elections Mohammed Morsi assumed office. Morsi and SCAF disagreed on the direction that Egypt should take; after millions protested SCAF gave Morsi a 48-hour ultimatum. On July 3, 2013 SCAF forcefully removed Morsi from office and assumed control, with Adly Mansour as interim president.

6. Protesters: Egyptian civilians have been involved in riots and protests in attempting to change Egypt’s unstable, corrupt governing system. There are two main groups of protesters.

a) Pro-Morsi supporters: Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were dismayed with the coup d’état that removed President Morsi from office and continue to fight for retribution.

b) Pro-Mubarak: Following the removal of President Mubarak civilians in support of his regime took to the streets to demand his reinstatement.

Insurgent Groups

7. Sinai Province: Formerly known as Ansar Beit-al Maqdis (ABM), the group aligned itself with the Islamic State in November 2014 and changed its name. Based in the Sinai Peninsula, ABM was designated a terrorist group by the United States and United Kingdom in April 2014. The group began operations in 2011 and became known in 2012 for a series of attacks against Israel. After the ousting of Mohammed Morsi, it began targeting Egyptian security forces. It is estimated that Sinai Province currently has between 1,000 and 1,500 active members.

8. Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt): This splinter group of Ansar Beit-al Maqdis emerged in January 2014. Since then it has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on security forces, government buildings, and public spaces. It was designated a terrorist organization by the Cairo Court in May 2014.

9. Katibat al-Rabat al-Jihadiya: This group separated from Ansar Beit-al Maqdis over a disagreement with ABM’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State in 2014.

Status of Fighting

2015 Conflict in the North Sinai region persisted throughout the year; Sinai Province was the most active insurgent group in Egypt. On July 1 the militants launched simultaneous raids on at least five military checkpoints and a police station in and around Sheikh Zuweid in one of the largest co-ordinated assaults to date. Government reports estimated that 241 militants and 21 soldiers were killed. According to BBC News, the group launched a missile at an Egyptian naval vessel in the Mediterranean on July 16. In response to these activities, counter-terrorism operations intensified in North Sinai. Sinai Province leader Ashraf Gharabli was killed in a shootout in Cairo on November 9. Sinai Province claimed responsibility for downing a Russian passenger plane on October 31. On December 14, Egyptian investigators reported finding no proof that terrorism caused the crash.  (ACLED) 

2014 Although there was less rioting and protesting this year, hundreds gathered to protest the anti-demonstration law and election results. Security forces remained notorious for their use of excessive force to disperse protestors. In July, an Interior Ministry official stated that, since Morsi’s ousting, authorities had arrested 22,000 people, most suspected supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights reported that, between July 2013 and May 2014, more than 41,000 people were arrested or charged with criminal offences. According to the Interior Ministry, more than 7,000 people who had been arrested in the aftermath of Morsi’s removal were still in pre-trial detention. Human Rights Watch noted that arrest campaigns in 2014 also targeted secular and leftist activists, specifically on charges that include protesting without authorization, incitement, “thuggery,” vandalism, blocking roads, and belonging to banned or terrorist groups.

Conflict in the Sinai Peninsula continued during the year, notably between Egyptian security forces and insurgent group Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Beit-al Maqdis (ABM). In January, militants for the first time used surface-to-air missiles to down a military helicopter. In one of the deadliest insurgent attacks in Egypt in years, at least 25 security personnel were killed and more injured by a car bomb in October. The same month, the government declared a state of emergency in north and central Sinai that lasted three months and led to the closure of the border with Gaza and the evacuation of 1,100 residents along the border.

2013 Egypt experienced a resurgence of violent clashes and protests due to tensions among the elected Muslim Brotherhood, the opposition National Salvation Party, the Supreme Council for Armed Forces, and civilians. On January 26, just over two years after the initial revolution, 21 Port Said civilians were sentenced to death, sparking a wave of protests against the Morsi government. Security forces used brutal tactics to halt the demonstrations. Increasing food and fuel shortages and growing inflation also sparked protests. On March 24, according to the International Crisis Group, Morsi warned that he would take “necessary measures” to “protect the nation.” In June civilians polarized around the question of removing Morsi from power. Twenty-two million Tamarrud signed a petition to oust the President and 25 million Tagarrud supported him. Morsi called for a national dialogue in June, but ongoing tensions and allegations that Morsi was creating an Islamic state and abusing power led to the SCAF coup on July 3. Morsi’s removal from power sparked violent protests throughout the country. August saw the most violence: more than 1,000 Egyptians died. Fear spread that the removal of Morsi would lead to a regime similar to that of Mubarak. Following the violent crackdown on civilians by security forces interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei stepped down. Former President Mubarak was released from prison and put under house arrest on August 21.

2012 Conflict declined slightly, although civilian protests against government reforms and security officials remained common. In April, for example, thousands of civilians took to the streets to demand that the country be ruled by its people. In early February political tensions led to 74 football fans being killed in Port Said by alleged thugs of the rival team, and clashes between civilians and police resulted in the deaths of an additional 12 people. In January the military partially lifted the State Emergency ban and released approximately 3,000 prisoners. The ban was officially removed on May 31 before presidential elections in June that resulted in a new government under President Mohammed Morsi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ex-president Mubarak was sentenced on June 2 to life in prison for corrupt practices and his role in the deaths of protesters. The drafting of a new constitution resulted in friction between Muslim Brotherhood and opposition supporters on October 12 in Tahrir Square.

2011 On January 25 tens of thousands of civilians, inspired by the uprising in Tunisia, organized a “Day of Revolt” to protest the 30 years of authoritarian rule by President Hosni Mubarak. According to the International Crisis Group 846 protesters were killed and more than 8,000 injured in public protests that lasted 18 days in January and February. Finally, President Mubarak resigned on February 11. April protests demanding that Mubarak and his sons be put on trial for corruption, led to his trial, which began August 3. Other former officials were also charged and sentenced for crimes while in office. Calls for accountability of current security officials grew as serious human rights violations against protesters became commonplace.

Number of Dead and Displaced

Total: The total number of deaths since the beginning of this conflict in 2011, according to International Crisis Group, is approximately 3,000; more than 15,000 people have been injured.

2015 According to ACLED, 2,869 people were killed in 2015, including security forces, civilians and militia. Thirty-three deaths occurred during riots and protest; 1,780 directly resulted from armed conflict; and 404 were the result of violence against civilians (ACLED, Real time Complete All Africa File, results filtered for Egypt, 2015). 

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP): According to UNHCR, as of June 2015 226,344 refugees, 30,019 asylum seekers, and 21 stateless persons were residing in Egypt.  While 16,105 refugees and 10,415 asylum seekers originated from Egypt (UNHCR).

2014 According to data provided by International Crisis Group, more than 464 were killed and 152 injured, including security forces, civilians, and militia.

Refugees and IDPs: The UNHCR reported 237,117 refugees, 25,194 asylum seekers, and 22 stateless persons residing in Egypt in July 2014, while there were 13,050 refugees and 9,049 asylum seekers originating from Egypt.

2013 International Crisis Group estimated that 1,439 deaths and thousands of injuries resulted from the violent protests that erupted throughout the country following the coup d’état that evicted President Morsi on July 3. The violence between security forces and Muslim Brotherhood members and pro-Morsi supporters peaked in August when approximately 1,000 people were killed.

Refugees: According to the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, there were 9,456 Egyptian refugees and 4,930 asylum seekers by mid-2013.

2012 There was a considerable decline in violent conflict according to the International Crisis Group, which reported a conservative 130 deaths and 200 injuries. February saw the greatest number of deaths when 74 soccer fans in Port Said were killed during clashes with rival fans after the match.

2011 According to the International Crisis Group, the uprising that began on January 25 resulted in approximately 984 deaths and 12,700 injuries. An internal report released in April claimed at least 846 protesters were killed and 8,000 injured during the height of the protests in January and February. Sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims resulted in 53 deaths.

Political Developments

2015 The government continued to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) during throughout the year. In February death sentences were confirmed for 183 MB members and on the 23rd the government dissolved 169 MB-affiliated NGO’s (Crisis Watch). On April 11 the Cairo Criminal Courts confirmed the death sentence of MB leader Mohammed Badie; this sentence was overturned on December 3 and a retrial was later ordered. The death sentence of deposed president and former MB leader Mohamed Morsi was confirmed in mid-June. Soon after MB leaders voiced concerns that ongoing repression might be pushing some members to violence. 

The first round of long-delayed parliamentary elections was held October 18-19; the second round followed on November 22-23. The High Election Committee reported a voter turnout of 26.56 percent- the lowest since the 2011 uprising. Many Muslim Brotherhood supporters continued to boycott the vote, as they had since the organization was banned and designated a terrorist organization in late 2013. There was little electoral violence and relatively low levels of protest, in contrast to the more active summer months. According to the Arab Foundation for Civil Society and Human Rights Support, a total of 67 protests, sit-ins, and strikes occurred between July and September. On the anniversary of the 2011 uprising in late January, dozens of protesters and one police official were killed, with more than 500 arrested. (Egypt Independent) On December 31 President Al-Sisi called for the newly elected parliament to assemble on January 10, 2016. This would be the first assembly since the Islamist-dominated parliament dissolved in mid-2012. (Crisis Watch)

In August the government passed new counter-terrorism legislation increasing police powers of detention and surveillance, and criminalizing public statements against the defence ministry. Anyone found guilty of falsely reporting militant attacks faced large fines and suspension of employment (The Guardian). The legislation was widely criticized as an attack on free speech by national and international NGO’s and human rights organizations. Amnesty International warned that its powers resembled those invoked during a state of emergency, which banned rights to freedom of expression and association. (Amnesty International)

2014 Egyptian citizens voted to amend the 2012 Egyptian constitution in January, strengthening the powers of the military, police, and judiciary, enhancing the rights of women and disabled people, and discarding select Islamic-leaning clauses added during Morsi’s term of office. Former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was elected President with 96.9 per cent of the vote. Voter participation was about 47.5 per cent, according to the electoral commission; Muslim Brotherhood supporters boycotted the vote. The opposition and observers expressed doubts over the election’s legitimacy. The United States welcomed al-Sisi’s election, but U.S. President Barack Obama expressed concerns over human rights at a meeting with al-Sisi during the United Nations General Assembly in September. The EU mission to monitor the election noted that freedom of association, assembly, and expression remained areas of concern, while police continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters.

Human Rights Watch documented serious shortfalls in procedures by Egypt’s judiciary. Detainees were denied basic due process rights; many trials violated Egyptian law as well as international legal standards. At least 90 detainees died in local police stations and security directorates in the governorates of Cairo and Giza, according to the Egyptian newspaper Al Watan. On May 1, the International Criminal Court (ICC) dismissed a request filed by Morsi and the now defunct Freedom and Justice Party that the ICC investigate crimes against humanity in Egypt on the grounds that the request for ICC’s jurisdiction over Egypt was not filed by the recognized government of Egypt. A presidential decree in February declared the defence minister the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF)—a position previously held by the president. In May 2014, former president Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison for embezzlement, but was acquitted in November of complicity in the deaths of protesters in 2011. In October, President al-Sisi expanded the jurisdiction of military courts to try civilians.

New rebel group Ajnad Misr split off from Ansar Beit-Al Maqdis (ABM) at the beginning of the year. In mid-November, ABM aligned with the Islamic State and renamed itself Sinai Province. Katibat al-Rabat al-Jihadiya also announced its split from ABM in December over a disagreement about ABM’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State.

2013 Internal unrest that followed the June 2012 presidential elections continued. In early July a military coup d’état by the SCAF removed President Morsi from power and replaced him with Adly Mansour, the head of the Supreme Constitutional court. In mid-July Interim President Mansour dissolved the parliament, called for amendments to the constitution, and re-shuffled the cabinet to remove Islamists. Fears arose that the interim government would reinstate controversial police units that existed under Mubarak. Internationally, the coup was declared illegal because the military had overthrown a democratically elected government. In August the European Union condemned security force violence against civilians and announced the suspension of export licences for equipment that could be used to oppress Egyptian civilians. In November the Interim government, in response to constant protests, passed a protest law to stop mass gatherings and restrict freedom of assembly. On December 25 the Muslim Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organization and made illegal once again.

2012 Following elections in June the Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president and the SCAF gave itself the power to control the budget, to reform legislation, and to write the new constitution. Tensions between the SCAF and President Morsi grew when SCAF leader General Tantawi resigned in September and the position was given to General al-Sisi by President Morsi. Changes by Morsi to the Constituent Assembly also led to allegations that he was creating an Islamic state. The release of the draft constitution in October resulted in severe backlash from the opposition, civil society and the judiciary. When Morsi signed the constitution on December 25, criticisms emerged that the constitution was illegitimate and needed changes.

2011 After continuous public protests President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down on February 11. The SCAF took control with Mohamed Hussein Tantawi as head of state until presidential elections. Two days later the SCAF dissolved the Egyptian Parliament and suspended the constitution to make way for amendments that were further legitimized by a public referendum in March. In April Mubarak’s National Democratic Party was dissolved and the Muslim Brotherhood formed the Non-Theocratic Freedom and Justice Party which was formally recognized by the Interim government on June 7. November 28 saw the first parliamentary elections since Mubarak’s removal.

Background

Decades of British colonial rule of Egypt nominally ended in 1922 with the unilateral declaration by the U.K. of Egyptian independence. The following year Egypt created its first constitution forming a representative government.

The Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936 guaranteed Britain’s strategic interests in the Suez Canal. The same year Farouk succeeded his father Fuad as King of Egypt. Prior to World War Two Britain reasserted significant control over Egypt, using it as a regional base for military operations. In a move to national sovereignty, Egypt, with Syria, Transjordan, Iraq, and Lebanon, agreed to the Alexandria Protocol in October 1944, which promoted Arab cooperation. The Protocol was followed by the Arab Pact of March 1945.

This Arab pact was involved in a war with Israel in 1948. Israel emerged as victor. King Farouk’s defeat embarrassed many Egyptians and contributed to the formation of the Free Officers’ Movement, led by Gamal Abdel Nasser, which aimed to overthrow the King. On July 23, 1952 Nasser led a revolution that removed King Farouk. Egypt was declared a republic on June 18, 1953 and Mohamad Naguib became the first president. In 1954, after ongoing disagreements with Nasser, Naguib was arrested and Nasser became President. During his presidency Nasser tried to introduce social and economic reforms, but Egypt remained largely impoverished.

In 1956, after Western nations and the World Bank had refused to finance the Aswan Dam, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. Britain, France and Israel banded together to reclaim the canal. Egypt was attacked by Israel and 100 hours later lost the canal. In response to pressure from the United States and the UN control was returned to Egypt  in 1957. President Nasser  gained prominence for standing up to the West. Egypt fought Israel again in the Six Day War in 1967 and lost.

After the death of President Nasser, Anwar el-Sadat became president in October 1970. Following another Egyptian defeat by Israel in the Yom Kipper war of 1973, Sadat sought peace with Israel; an agreement was signed in March 1979. Sadat also opened Egypt to private investment, which resulted in substantial economic, political and social changes. Subjected to allegations of corruption and disdain, Sadat was assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1981. Vice-President Mubarak became president, continuing Sadat’s economic and other policies.

After 30 years of authoritarian rule, President Mubarak was forced from office by widespread protests in 2011 that killed almost 1,000 people. He was temporarily replaced by the SCAF until presidential elections were held in June 2012. Mohammed Morsi, leader of the previously banned Muslim Brotherhood, was elected president in Egypt’s first democratic election. Just over a year later, following accusations of abuse of power and mismanagement, Morsi and his government were removed in a military coup d’état by the SCAF in July 2013. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians protested for and against the change in leadership in the following months and an estimated 1,000 Egyptians died. Adly Mahmoud Mansour, the head of the Supreme Constitutional court, became Interim president of Egypt.

Arms Sources

In 2011 Amnesty International admonished the United States for ongoing weapons deliveries to Egypt. It reported that many U.S. weapons were used by Egyptian security officials to commit serious human rights violations against Egyptian civilians. In particular, Amnesty noted that three shipments by the U.S. company Combined Systems Inc. in 2011 included chemical irritants, tear gas, and almost 46 tons of ammunition. In 2011 the Egyptian security officials intercepted a number of weapons that were being smuggled into the country via Libya.

In 2012 the United States continued to supply Egypt with weapons, including 20 F-16 jets. In 2013 Egypt received weapons deliveries from Canada, China, France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United States.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, on August 21, 2013 the European Union declared that it would suspend licences to Egypt for equipment that could be used to oppress civilians.

In October 2013 the United States reduced military aid to Egypt. A month later Russia began talks with Egypt and came to a subsequent deal that will provide Egypt with $2-billion worth of Russian weaponry, including MiG-29 fighter planes, air defence systems, and anti-tank missiles. In September 2014, U.S. announced that it would provide 10 Apache attack helicopters to aid counterterrorism operations in the Sinai.

In 2015 Egypt received arms deliveries from the United States, France, and Russia. The 2013 U.S. weapons export ban on Egypt was lifted in early April. The military defence budget for the year was estimated at $ 5.47 billion.

Economic Factors

When economic challenges arose in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s the Egyptian government was able to protect the poorest citizens through subsidies, external aid, and remittances. Economic reforms introduced by Sadat in the 1980s and continued by Mubarak in the 1990s and early 2000s extended the gap between rich and poor.

In January 2012 Aljazeera created a scorecard to measure how far the country had advanced since its revolution the year before. The report noted that half the country still lived on less than $2 a day. But some positive changes had occurred since the 2011 interim government had managed to increase minimum wage to 700 Egyptian pounds a month from 35 Egyptian pounds a month. And for the first time in Egyptian history citizens in the private sector were guaranteed a minimum wage.

Egypt’s overall economic situation continues to decline. Its economic crisis has been compared to the Great Depression. There have been drastic decreases in foreign investment and tourism, a 60 per cent decline in foreign exchange reserves, rising unemployment, shortages in fuel, and further devaluation of the Egyptian pound. President Morsi attempted to make some changes by accepting grants and loans from Qatar and Libya, but he did not conduct any nationwide economic reforms. He increased taxes on some imports and closed shops earlier at night to save electricity. But the increasing disparity between rich and poor triggered a 350-per-cent increase in robberies in 2012.

In 2012 the EU gave Egypt a $6.4-billion financial support package and in July 2013 the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait agreed to provide aid and loans that totaled $12-billion. As of 2014, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAW had committed to provide Egypt with over $18 billion in loans, fuel subsidies and grants – in addition to investments in residential and commercial property.

Egypt’s defence budget has moderately declined in recent years. It was $4.47-billion (U.S.) in 2010, $4.23-billion in 2011 and $4.12-billion in 2013. The United States provides $1.3-billiion in military aid (approximately one-quarter of the defence budget). In August 2013 the United States did not call the overthrow of President Morsi a coup, which would have jeopardized military aid. But by October 2013 the United States had decided to freeze some military aid to Egypt.

 

map: CIA Factbook

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