Egypt

Expert Voices

Anti-corruption protests roiling Egypt add to regional insecurity

protestors in the street in Cairo
Anti-government protesters in Cairo. Photo: Oliver Weiken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Chaotic protests across Egypt this weekend — prompted by videos exposing corruption in President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's military-backed government — underscore the population's weariness with economic hardship due in part to government austerity measures.

Why it matters: While Sisi markets Egypt as an island of stability in a turbulent region, popular dissatisfaction with his regime threatens that image. Whether the protests escalate or fizzle, the country remains a potential powder keg in a highly strategic location: straddling the Suez Canal, flanked by Israel and Libya, and across the Mediterranean from Europe.

"Sisi out": Corruption allegations drive protestors to streets of Egypt

Egyptian protestor
Protesters shout slogans during a rare anti-government protest in downtown Cairo. Photo: Oliver Weiken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Hundreds of Egyptians took to the streets on Friday and Saturday to demonstrate against President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who has been accused of corruption and lavish spending while the rest of the country suffers under his economic austerity policies, the BBC reports.

Why it matters: Protests have been rare in Egypt since Sisi — condemned by many as a brutal authoritarian who has jailed thousands of his political opponents — first took power in a military coup in 2014. Hundreds of protestors on Friday filled Tahrir Square, a key site in the 2011 Egyptian uprising that led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. On Saturday, about 200 people chanting that Sisi is "the enemy of god" demonstrated in Suez, leading to dozens of arrests, per the BBC.