Egypt

Egypt proclaimed independence from the UK in 1922 after a series of revolts. Since the establishment of the Republic in 1956, Egypt has been ruled mainly by authoritarian military figures. Egypt’s rulers have fought to suppress both democratic change and Islamic extremism, instead adopting an ideology of secular nationalism. Inter-state conflicts in Egypt’s history include a number of wars against Israel (1948/1949, 1967 and 1972) and the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956. A peace agreement in 1979 ended conflict with Israel.

Egypt was at the heart of the 2011 Arab Spring, in which President Hosni Mubarak who had ruled for 30 years, was deposed. This led to Egypt’s first democratic election in 2012 in which Muslim Brotherhood candidate Muhamed Morsi was elected President. However, the following year, popular protests and a military coup toppled Morsi and led to the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood. Members and supporters of the prohibited Muslim Brotherhood and the affiliated former ruling Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) clashed repeatedly with security forces and supporters of President al-Sisi over 2013 and 2014, leading to hundreds of deaths and ongoing tensions. There is growing concern for Egypt’s internal resolution of conflicts and the intra-state wars have raised human rights issues. In March, 2014, the UNHRC released a report stating concern about the use of violence by the Egyptian government. Critics are concerned Sisi has undermined freedoms gained after the uprising that ended Mubarak's 30-year rule.

On another front, a limited war between Islamist groups Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) and Ajnad Misr (AM) in the Sinai Peninsula and the government also continues. These groups frequently carry out attacks on policemen and soldiers in North Sinai and ABM has even recently pledged allegiance to ISIS. In 2014 the Cairo Urgent Matters Court declared ABM and AM terrorist organizations.

Peace attempts

Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel is one of the world’s most renowned agreements, signed in 1979 following from the 1978 Camp David Accords. Due to the accords, reached after 12 days of negotiations, Egyptian President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize and the final agreement saw Egypt become the first Arab state to officially recognize Israel.

Since then, Egypt has been known to take a leadership role in some regional peace negotiations. For example, Egypt’s attempt to broker an agreement between Israel and Hamas has been recognised, and Egypt was instrumental in mediating between the two parties during the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange of 2011. Egypt also played host to the League of Arab States summit in March, 2015, at which the UN and the league pledged cooperation on counter-terrorism and the Middle East Peace Process.

Most concerns for Egypt’s peace and security revolve around internal politics and protests. Egypt has been without a parliament since June 2012, when a court dissolved the democratically elected main chamber, and elections (originally scheduled for March, 2015) were delayed, with al-Sisi promising to hold them before the end of the year.

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