E-Paper Series Egypt: "Stability is an illusion"

After the euphoria of 2011, terrorism threats and the urge to seal Europe's southern border against migration and refugees has put security and stability back to the top of the foreign policy agenda. Yet the stability that comes with repression and «hard» security remains elusive. Support for democracy should move away from top-down approaches geared to achieve formal compliance with legal and governance benchmarks, and instead focus on increasing the autonomy and plurality of social actors. Democracy promotion should be a rationale for cooperation that is oriented towards societies, not rhetoric directed at governments.

The four papers assembled here support two core arguments: first, the notion that Egypt's security regime can deliver stability does not hold water in the short term. In the long run, authoritarianism instead entrenches factors that engender instability. Second, that giving up on democracy in Egypt is borne out of a too limited understanding of how processes of democratization occur, and out of an imprecise reading of the situation on the ground.

The authors of these papers are European, Arab and Egyptian researchers connected to major European think tanks and academic institutions. It is perhaps no surprise, and certainly indicative of the bleak reality of the country they study, that all but one of them preferred to withhold their names, despite being in a line of work where publication records make or break careers.


1 – Security

Egypt's failing "War on Terror"

Despite waging a «war on terror» for more than three years, the current Egyptian leadership has failed to provide lasting security. Instead of focusing on the real terrorist threats that do exist, the security approach was exploited to silence and remove political opponents and to squash resistance against authoritarian rule.

2 - Radicalization

3 - Economy

4 - Military