Egypt’s opposition destroyed under Sisi

Since ousting Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi in 2011, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has moved to crush opponents, whether Islamists or liberals.

Only a few small groups have survived the crackdown, with successive waves of arrests scooping up hundreds of Islamist supporters and members of civil society, effectively neutralising any challenge to Sisi’s rule.

A former general, Sisi has ensured lawyers, political activists, journalists and intellectuals today find themselves behind bars.

Some have languished in jail for years, others have fled abroad.

Political opposition

A small alliance of eight independent parties, known as the Civil Democratic Movement, is one of the few opposition organisations still standing.

After rare protests against Sisi’s rule broke out on Friday last week, the coalition called for a “national dialogue”.

Founded in 2017, it brings together about 150 political figures including former presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabahi and Khaled Ali.

Among the small parties in the coalition are the moderate leftwing Social Democrat party, the Al-Karama party, which follows the thinking of Arab nationalist former president Gamal Abdel Nasser, and the liberal Al-Dostour.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed El-Baradei, who founded Al-Dostour, was for a time Egypt’s main liberal leader. Today he lives in Austria.

One of his party’s top members Khaleed Dawood was among hundreds arrested this week in the wake of the weekend’s protests.

During the 2018 elections, Sisi’s most serious rivals were all placed under arrest, while others like Khaled Ali were discouraged from running.

Former military chief of staff Sami Anan was detained after throwing his hat into the ring.

In the Egyptian parliament, a small bloc known as the 25-30 makes up some kind of opposition. But they wield little real clout in the 600-seat body.

Muslim Brotherhood

For decades, the Muslim Brotherhood was the main opposition movement in Egypt.

But since Sisi took power, it has been banned, outlawed as a “terrorist” organisation and dismantled.

Former senior member and Egypt’s first democratically-elected civilian president Mohamed Morsi, who was toppled by the military after mass protests, died in June during a court hearing.

Today, hundreds of former Brotherhood members remain in prison, awaiting trial.

Others live in exile, often seeking refuge in countries which back their organisation such as Turkey or Qatar.

But they retain a presence on social media, as well as television channels such as Mekameleen and El Sharq, which broadcast from abroad.

The group published a statement voicing “full support” for the anti-Sisi protests.