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Noah Feldman

Egypt Can Only Blame Itself for President's Crackdown

Sisi's power flows from the coup that put him in office, not from his coziness with Trump.


Photographer: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

The increasingly totalitarian moves by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who just enacted a new law giving him control of nongovernmental organizations in his country, shouldn’t be pinned on his chumminess with U.S. President Donald Trump. In fact, six years after the Arab Spring and almost four years after Sisi’s takeover, it’s time to stop blaming the U.S. for the failure of democracy in Egypt.

The true cause of Sisi’s suppression of dissent, including the new restrictions on human-rights groups and other charities, is simply that there’s no one left in the country with the capacity to balance him. And that’s a result of the disastrous decision by a part of the Egyptian public to turn against democratically elected leaders, however badly they were doing, and embrace the military.