Since January 2011, Egypt has witnessed chaos. An autocratic leader has been overthrown after thirty years, a military-led transition has produced contested constitutional declarations and parliaments, political violence has raged in the streets, the first democratically elected president took power and was himself overthrown, and the media and rights organizations have seen both unparalleled freedom and renewed repression. Throughout this period of instability, one thing has remained constant: the United States’ financial support of the Egyptian military. The US has been sending military aid to Egypt since the 1970s, reaching its current level of $1.3 billion per year in 1987. The continuation of foreign military financing (FMF) to Egypt is detrimental to the prospects for democracy in the country and contributes to severe human rights abuses; it should have been suspended long ago. But neither the Obama administration nor future governments is likely to cease sending Egypt the second-greatest military funding package in the world any time soon.
While elections and electoral processes are frequent topics within Comparative Politics, but the details and intricacies have largely escaped my readings so far. Most of my research has focused on military politics and authoritarian rule in the Middle East. But recently, discussion about Egypt’s second presidential elections since the 2011 revolution has brought the issue of voter turnout to the foreground.
I spent the past two days at the ISA South conference, held at Queen’s University of Charlotte, and I wanted to share a couple highlights from the panels. The theme of the conference was Public-Private Partnerships: Responding to Global Challenges, but there were panels and roundtables on a variety of issues across IR, Foreign Policy, and area studies.
I went to six panels:
State and Security in East Asia
Confronting the Challenge of Terrorism
Responding to Conflict: International Security Politics
After the Arab Spring: Political Responses in the Middle East
US Foreign and Military Policy
Foreign Policymaking in the United States