This book considers Egypt’s recent uprisings and descent into military rule and concludes with a brief treatment of the regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the general who seized power in 2013. Hellyer writes engagingly, although he spends a bit too much time assessing what he himself got right and wrong as an analyst of these developments and not enough time explaining where he thinks Egypt is now heading. Hellyer believes there was nothing inevitable about Egypt’s evolution since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. What Hellyer calls “the revolutionary coalition” of Islamists, secular democrats, and “remnants” of the Mubarak regime could have settled on a single candidate in the 2012 presidential election, rather than splitting up, with the Islamists backing Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hellyer argues that things might have turned out differently had the Brotherhood not wrongly interpreted Morsi’s narrow election victory as a popular mandate and had Morsi not proved such a ham-fisted leader. Sisi and his allies in the deep state had not originally planned to depose Morsi but ended up doing so in a brutal fashion. If the Sisi regime cannot relieve Egypt’s socioeconomic pressures, the next uprisings will be led by the poor and will likely be violent.
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