Following yesterday’s first Middle East Update, Geoffrey Kemp will continue the program with Michelle Dunne at 3:30 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy. Up for discussion today is Egypt.
Dunne, the senior associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, will delve into the parallel developments in the Middle East and Egypt.
“We’ll be discussing broad Middle East trends, but we’ll also be zeroing in a little bit on how those trends are manifested in Egypt, which is the most populous of the Arab countries,” Dunne said.
Kemp, the director of Regional Security Programs for the Center for the National Interest, said since its inception in the early 1990s, the Middle East Update has served as a valuable program for a more in-depth perspective of the Middle East.
Currently, Egypt is in a period of unrest which started with a coup against former, long-standing president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Seeking a legitimate democracy, the Egyptians ran Mubarak and most of his government out of power and replaced them with the Muslim Brotherhood. However that government, too, ultimately failed in 2013 with a military coup. Since then, Egypt has existed with a centralized military government.
In the Middle East, Dunne said, Egypt acts as a prime example of a usual trend: unstable governments and civil wars, with established nations coming undone at the seams.
“This is a remarkable period — even for the Middle East,” Dunne said. “What has happened with the popular uprisings in 2011, there are now three civil wars going on in Syria, Libya and Yemen. And of course, Iraq remains in turmoil.”
Two years after the last coup, Dunne said the Egyptian government is making an attempt to consolidate control and to revive the economy. She also said the government enforces political repression and human rights violations on a scale unprecedented in the country’s history.
“[Egypt is] an authoritarian state that is dominated by the military,” Dunne said. “The military dominates the economy as well as the political order.”
One of the reasons Dunne and Kemp wanted to focus on Egypt was to alert people of the trends that occur underneath the surface in the Middle East. Dunne believes those trends will cause the region to have more conflict in the future.
Dunne said she’d also like to discuss the region’s terrorism and radicalization, the growth of the Islamic State and underlying social economic and political trends — trends like the “abysmal failure of the governance in the Arab region,” Dunne said, where the needs of citizens are not met. This results in citizens relying on “non-state actors” for help.
“I consider ‘non-state actors’ to be a neutral term,” Dunne said. “A non-state actor could be considered quite scary, like ISIS, or it could be a youth movement of volunteers to clean up the environment. It has a lot of different non-state actors that have tried to move into the space that governments have left vacant.”