Wednesday, November 28, 2018

"Sisi Builds a Green Zone for Egypt"

Carnegie:

Egypt’s new administrative capital, currently under construction—and tentatively named Wedian, which means “desert valleys”— represents concretely where President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been trying to take his country during his five years of authoritarian rule. Built and run primarily by the military, it is to be a sleek, contemporary “smart city” of government institutions and apartment blocks, located some 28 miles into the desert east of the heavily populated thousand-year-old metropolis of Cairo. Wedian’s echoing emptiness also symbolizes the fact that most Egyptian citizens have no place in Sisi’s vision—it is an equivalent of Baghdad’s Green Zone, where he will rule indefinitely behind a security cordon, shielded from the demands of the country’s 97 million inhabitants.

The fact that Wedian will be a controlled-access city serves as a metaphor for Sisi’s most impressive achievement, if it can be called that: rebuilding the wall of fear separating citizens from the state. In Egypt’s 2011 uprising, the fear barrier constructed during the eras of presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat, and Hosni Mubarak was breached,