Center for American Progress

AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT: CAP’s Katulis on Egypt and 2012 Challenges
Press Release

AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT: CAP’s Katulis on Egypt and 2012 Challenges

Press Contacts

  • Christina DiPasquale

To read the full column, click here.

Washington, D.C. — Today, as Egyptians celebrate the first anniversary of the January 25 protests that toppled the Mubarak regime last year, the Center for American Progress released “Egypt’s Political Transition Takes a Step Forward Amid Much Uncertainty: We Need to Prepare for More Challenges There in 2012” by Senior Fellow Brian Katulis, who is on the ground in Cairo and available for comment.

The most immediate uncertainty is what will happen today, the first anniversary of the January 25 protests that toppled the Mubarak regime last year. Protest groups unhappy with the political transition and wanting a faster transition to civilian rule are calling for mass rallies to mark the anniversary. On top of this political uncertainty is a dangerous economic crisis: Egypt’s foreign currency reserves fell to $10 billion from a prerevolution level of $36 billion, and Egypt has reopened discussions with the International Monetary Fund to increase the inflow of foreign funds that had been reduced due to political turmoil. Rumors of changes in fuel subsidies prompted a panic that led to gas shortages in Cairo, and bigger questions about unemployment and inflation remain unresolved.

The debate over the proper checks and balances within Egypt’s new governing system will take center stage in the coming months as Egypt moves to write a new constitution. Egypt is full of rumors about a possible deal between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood on the constitution, including the sensitive issue of how much oversight the civilian government will have over the military. In addition to drafting a constitution, Egypt is set to hold elections for the upper house of parliament, which will begin next week, and a presidential election in June. This adds up to a crowded agenda for Egypt’s political transition in the first six months of 2012.

In the past year the Obama administration responded fairly nimbly to the fast-moving events in Egypt, striking the right balance in dealing with the complex security, political, and economic issues related to the transition. In 2011 the administration pushed the ruling military to bring clarity to the political transition, and it engaged a wider range of political actors as Egypt moved through a series of elections. It called out the human rights abuses of the security services in Egypt, and it stood behind regional allies like Israel when it was faced with attacks on its embassy in Cairo and territory from the Sinai Peninsula.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2012, the United States needs to remain vigilant in balancing its core security interests while promoting its values in Egypt’s ongoing political transition. Egypt is undergoing a major transition, and the United States has adopted important tactical shifts. Now is the time for the United States to conduct a more comprehensive strategic review of its Egypt policy, similar to the one the Obama administration conducted on Afghanistan in late 2009.

To read the full column, click here.

To speak with Brian Katulis, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or cdipasquale@americanprogress.org.

###