It’s the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly this week in New York. A number of world leaders will address representatives of the globe’s population – including the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. It seems only yesterday that Sisi deposed and detained a democratically elected president from office, Mohammad Mursi, following widespread protests. The international community has moved on a great deal since its initial reaction to that suspension of a democratic experiment – but not without a great amount of risk. The momentum is clear – the strategic direction is not.
While the popularity of the current political dispensation is difficult to ascertain precisely, there are no illusions in the international community about the popular backing of the Egyptian authorities domestically; though back in the summer of 2013, that might have been in doubt. The impetus of the international reaction to Egypt has been rather consistent – if Cairo can handle Egypt, then the international community will deal with whomsoever is running the show, and able to run the show, in Cairo. He can be an Islamist, he can be a military leader who deposed an Islamist, he can be an autocrat in power for thirty years – he’s just got to handle it.
This is unlikely to be the last time Sisi addresses the United Nations with little in the way of substantial criticism about his policies from the international community.H.A. Hellyer