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The Pharaoh-Friendly West

Considering Egypt's history, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's current effort to remain in office until 2034 is not surprising. And the US and European response to Sisi’s power grab suggests that the West has not abandoned its belief that tacitly supporting repressive Arab regimes will secure stability.

WASHINGTON, DC – Last month, Egypt’s parliament overwhelmingly approved draft constitutional changes that would allow President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to remain in office until 2034. And the West – fixated on upholding political stability and maintaining access to lucrative weapons markets – is content to let it happen.

Amending Article 140 of the 2014 constitution – approved by 485 of 596 MPs – will extend the two allowed presidential terms from four to six years, and permit Sisi to run for two additional terms when his current one ends in 2022. Parliament will hold a second vote within 60 days. The decision would then need to be ratified by a public referendum.

Sisi’s desire to remain president is unsurprising. To be sure, he displayed humility upon coming to power. In an interview in 2013, he claimed that he did not “aspire for authority.” In 2017, he vowed, “I am not for any amendments to be made to the constitution … the one who is in the president’s seat will not be able to stay after the term allowed by law and the constitution.” Likewise, in his first speech to parliament in 1981, former President Hosni Mubarak – ousted in the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 after clinging to his position for 30 years – said, “God knows I never dreamed of this job.”

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