Press Release – Andrew Miller on 60 Minutes: “This is the Most Repressive Government in Modern Egyptian History”

Contact: Andrew Miller, Deputy Director for Policy, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED),[1], 202-804-4741 (office); April Brady, Communications Coordinator, POMED,[2], 202-804-4747 (office)

(Washington, D.C.) – In a “60 Minutes” segment[3] that aired on CBS, Sunday, January 6, POMED Deputy Director for Policy Andrew Miller spoke with correspondent Scott Pelley about Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s authoritarian regime and his ongoing crackdown on civil society.

“Sisi began by jailing the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists. He extended it to secular opposition groups. And now he’s even going after poets and artists and bloggers, people you wouldn’t normally think of as political activists or primary public players,” said Miller, who was director for Egypt and Israeli Military Issues at the National Security Council from 2014–2017.

“He views any opposition to him as a threat to his standing and as a threat to his objective. We have to remember: he is a military officer. He spent his entire career in the military before he became president. And the idea that someone wouldn’t obey or listen to his orders is anathema to him.”

During the segment—which features President al-Sisi, and also includes interviews with former political prisoner Mohamed Soltan and former Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party parliamentarian Abdul Mawgoud Dardery—Scott Pelley cites a Human Rights Watch statistic that there are 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt, to which President al-Sisi responds by insisting that “there are no political prisoners in Egypt.”

Miller described al-Sisi’s regime as “the most repressive government in modern Egyptian history,” and countered the perception that al-Sisi’s tactics provide stability in Egypt: “It’s a curious way to describe Egypt to call it stable. Since Sisi took office, living standards have declined, the country’s crumbling, the insurgency problem in the Sinai has only gotten worse—it’s backed by the Islamic State, entering its sixth year. And you’ve seen the mass incarceration of peaceful activists alongside hardened jihadists, which threatens to turn more Egyptians to terrorism. That seems to be a recipe for the very instability that Sisi claims he’s preventing.”

The segment, which was originally taped in September, faced immediate pushback from the Egyptian government. Shortly after Pelley’s interview with President al-Sisi, the Egyptian Ambassador contacted[4] the “60 Minutes” team and told them the interview could not be aired. Mada Masr also has reported[5] that the presidency’s media office ordered Egyptian media not to cover the interview.

Watch the full segment.[6]

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to examining how genuine democracies can develop in the Middle East and how the United States can best support that process. Through research, advocacy, and civil society partnerships we work to strengthen the constituency for U.S. policies that peacefully support democratic reform in the Middle East.


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