The Return of the Arab Dictator

Janine di Giovanni and Noah Goldberg in Newsweek:

1127arabdictators01At the annual Manama Dialogue in Bahrain, an elite Middle East security summit held in late October, the keynote speaker was Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Surrounded by a phalanx of bodyguards, General el-Sissi took the stage and addressed a packed audience of ministers, diplomats and senior U.S. State Department officials. He talked of Egypt’s role in the conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya.

But the general’s main concern—as a staunch military man who has been in the army since the age of 23—was the rise of armed factions in the Middle East. “We are concerned by the undoing of the national state and the rule of law by armed militias,” el-Sissi emphasized at the gathering, just days before a Russian passenger plane went down in the Sinai Desert in what increasingly looks like a bombing by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

After being lauded at Manama, where he met with the German minister of defense and other bigwigs, el-Sissi flew home to take stock of the Russian airline crisis and to prepare for an official visit to Britain, where he would meet with Prime Minister David Cameron. After a period when the West was cautious about his ascent to power, el-Sissi’s visit underlined the fact that he is firmly back at international diplomacy’s top table, just weeks after Egypt was elected to the U.N. Security Council.

More here. [Thanks to Ken Roth.]