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Seduced by a Strongman?

Why Egypt's Sisi Could Be More Dangerous than Washington Thinks

A soldier secures a road during the presidential elections in Cairo, May 26, 2014. Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

Cairo is coming unhinged. From razing a buffer zone between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, to criminalizing membership in the Muslim Brotherhood, to using lethal force against activists who violate the country’s protest law, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has crafted an internal security strategy heavy on birdshot, bulldozers, and pliant judges.

Foreign policy realists may argue that Egypt’s domestic problems are its own; they don’t change U.S. strategic interests. The Obama administration’s release of previously embargoed military aid to Egypt—and simultaneous concession that the country’s human rights record is cause for concern—would seem to align with that reading.

However, it is not true that domestic politics can be quarantined from foreign policy. In fact, Egypt’s domestic and foreign policies are becoming more entangled by the day. And that bleed-over should raise concerns.

U.S. Secretary of State John

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