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Will Egyptians Take to the Streets Again?

Plus: The Ukraine whistleblower report, Afghanistan’s presidential election, and the other stories we’re following today.

By , an associate editor at Foreign Policy.
Egyptian protesters call for the removal of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in central Cairo on Sept. 20.
Egyptian protesters call for the removal of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in central Cairo on Sept. 20. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: A second round of protests is expected in Egypt, the whistleblower complaint indicates Trump’s administration covered up the Ukraine call, and Afghanistan prepares for a presidential election amid threats of violence.

We welcome your feedback at morningbrief@foreignpolicy.com.

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: A second round of protests is expected in Egypt, the whistleblower complaint indicates Trump’s administration covered up the Ukraine call, and Afghanistan prepares for a presidential election amid threats of violence.

We welcome your feedback at morningbrief@foreignpolicy.com.


Unease in Egypt Ahead of Second Round of Protests

A second round of anti-government protests has been called today in Egypt by Mohamed Ali, the self-proclaimed whistleblower who provoked the surprise demonstrations in Egypt last weekend with a series of anti-corruption videos. It’s not yet clear if a harsh government crackdown this week will be enough to deter people from returning to the streets.

Since last weekend’s protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, nearly 2,000 Egyptians have been arrested and security forces have been stationed around the center of Cairo. Authorities have already threatened to use force to put down today’s protest, and Egypt’s censors have already tried to get ahead of the narrative.

Who is in charge? Ali, an actor who made money as a military contractor and lives in Spain, doesn’t come from Egypt’s traditional opposition. And the protests have taken place despite pushback from democracy activists who believe Egypt can’t handle another revolution. They’ve also attracted a demographic that Sisi once saw as his base, Ola Salem writes in FP. “It is time for Sisi to start worrying,” she writes.

What’s next? This week’s crackdown has made clear that the protesters are taking a big risk by taking to the streets. But analysts say even if today’s protest doesn’t yield a large turnout, Sisi’s image of absolute control has already been tarnished: The demonstrations are the biggest since he took power in a 2014 military coup and clamped down on organized protest and dissent.


What We’re Following Today

Trump’s Ukraine scandal escalates. The whistleblower report made public on Thursday indicates that U.S. President Donald Trump pushed for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden—a Democratic candidate in the 2020 election—and that his administration tried to cover up the call. The complaint indicates that several key members of the State Department were involved, and these officials are likely to become key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry against Trump, Elias Groll and Robbie Gramer report.

Afghanistan braces for election day. Ahead of Afghanistan’s presidential election on Saturday, more than 100,000 troops and police have been deployed to polling stations around the country. The Taliban has threatened suicide bombings and rocket attacks to prevent Afghans from voting. Incumbent President Ashraf Ghani is expected to win a second term, but violence could increase instability in the country, derailing efforts to revive the peace talks with the Taliban called off by the United States this month.

One politically divided family’s story illustrates the meaninglessness of an election amid the country’s endless civil war that has pitted brother against brother, Emran Feroz reports for FP.

Trump administration cuts refugee numbers. The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it will allow just 18,000 refugees to settle in the United States next year, a decision swiftly criticized by refugee advocates. The move comes amid a backlog of applications for asylum, many for Central American migrants. The 2020 arrivals will be the lowest ever for the United States refugee program.


Keep an Eye On

Indonesia’s new anti-corruption law. Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Thursday that he could revoke the new law governing the country’s anti-corruption agency, which has prompted tens of thousands of students to protest this week. Activists say the law would undermine efforts to fight corruption, in particular by setting up a committee to oversee the agency.

Kashmir’s anti-Indian resistance. Since India decided to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy, it has sent in thousands of troops and prevented Kashmiris from organizing mass demonstrations. The one island of protest has been the residential area of Anchar in the state’s capital, Srinagar, where Kashmiri activists are preparing for a long fight, Anchal Vohra reports for FP.

Substance abuse in Bhutan. Despite Bhutan’s famous development philosophy, which puts Gross National Happiness ahead of GDP, it faces a growing alcohol and drug abuse problem—particularly among young people. The issue is a huge burden on Bhutanese society and the production of hard liquor by the Bhutanese government remains the elephant in the room, Sonam Ongmo and Tej Parikh report for FP.


Odds and Ends

Canada’s Green Party has been criticized for editing a photo of leader Elizabeth May to show her holding an eco-friendly cup. May admitted this week the photo had been changed without her knowledge, but insisted that she carries reusable cups. The Green Party is polling at around 11 percent ahead of the country’s election—more than triple the public support it had in 2016.


Tune In

Later today on FP’s podcast, First Person: This week, Spain’s Supreme Court ruled that the ex-dictator Francisco Franco’s remains must be removed from the mausoleum he had built for himself outside of Madrid. Almudena Carracedo, whose film The Silence of Others examines how victims of Spain’s brutal dictatorship are still fighting for justice, speaks with deputy editor Sarah Wildman.


That’s it for today.

For more on these stories and many others, visit foreignpolicy.com, subscribe here, or sign up for our other newsletters. Send your tips, comments, questions, or corrections to morningbrief@foreignpolicy.com

Audrey Wilson is an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @audreybwilson

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