Human Rights & Democracy in the Middle East
The Middle East is in turmoil. The hope and promise of the 2011 Arab Spring are now a distant memory. The toppling of the decrepit Mubarak regime in Egypt was greeted by many Egyptians with joy. But that elation didn’t last long. Since 2014, Egypt is ruled by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Sisi has changed his uniform for an Armani suit. If you criticize him and his regime you can easily land up in jail or worse. There is something like 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt. In terms of freedom of the press, Egypt ranks 168th out of 180 countries. That doesn’t seem to bother Washington. Cairo is a major recipient of U.S. aid and is a lucrative market for Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrup Grumman weapons sales. Meanwhile, off the radar screen is the ongoing Saudi/UAE bloodbath in Yemen.
Interview by David Barsamian.
Recorded at the Middle East Studies Association annual conference.
Sarah Leah Whitson is the Executive Director of DAWN, Democracy for the Arab World Now. Previously, she was executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division from 2004 – 2020. She has led dozens of advocacy and investigative missions throughout the region, focusing on issues of armed conflict, accountability, legal reform, migrant workers, and human rights. She has published widely on human rights and foreign policy in the Middle East in international and regional media, including The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The Washington Post, and Foreign Policy.