Egypt: EU, IMF prop up General Sisi dictatorship

Egypt EU

A few weeks ago, the European Union (EU) announced another deal with Egypt’s General Sisi military dictatorship. This deal includes a huge funding package worth $8 billion to support Egypt’s struggling economy. Around the same time, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also announced a $8 billion package for Cairo.[1] 

Why are imperialist powers so eager to give billions of US Dollars to Egypt’s regime? The answer lies in the nature of dictatorship — a bonapartist capitalist regime that serves the interests of imperialist and regional powers.[2] General Sisi came to power via a military coup in July 2013 when it overthrew the government of Mohamed Morsi whose Freedom and Justice Party, a bourgeois Islamist party, had won the first and only democratic elections after the victory of the January 2011 revolution.[3]

Since this coup, Egypt has destroyed all democratic rights and created one of the worst dictatorships in the Arab world which bloody suppresses any form of opposition. It has killed thousands of opposition activists — most famously at the Rabaa massacre on August 14, 2013 when up to 2600 people were slaughtered on a single day. It currently keeps more than 70,000 people in prison for political reasons — including for such “crimes” as putting a critical comment against the regime on Facebook.[4]

Imperialist interests

Sisi’s dictatorship has received huge political, economic and military support both from imperialist powers as well as the Gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These powers support the military regime because it serves their interests.

Concretely, the imperialist powers consider Sisi as an useful lackey for several reasons:

1) With 111 million people, Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world. Furthermore, it links Africa and Asia and, particularly important, it controls the Suez Canal, one of the most important maritime transport routes of the capitalist world economy.[5]

2) Sisi’s regime has played a crucial role in aiding Israel’s blockade against the Palestinian people in Gaza, as it controls the only non-Israeli entry in the south of the strip. Egypt’s support for the Zionist occupation of Gaza has become even more important since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu started to wage a genocidal war against the Palestinians in October 2023.[6] 

3) Egypt plays a key role in controlling migration from Africa and the Middle East to Europe. While the European capitalists desperately need migrants as a young and cheap labour force that they can profitably exploit, they want to control the process of migration so that no unwanted migrants enter “Fortress Europe”. Unsurprisingly, EU state leaders have repeatedly called Egypt a “strategic partner”.

4) Finally, Egypt with its sizable middle class and industry is a profitable market for imperialist corporations. European arms manufacturers have made big deals with Cairo. Siemens is building power plants and a high-speed rail system connecting the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Italy’s Eni has made big investments in the oil and gas sector.

The huge economic and military aid for Egypt’s dictatorship from Western-led institutions such as the IMF and the imperialist EU demonstrates once more the hypocritical nature of so-called “Western values”. These guardians of “democracy” and “human rights” unconditionally support Israel’s genocide as well as the brutal regime of General Sisi. [7]

Economic crisis

However, despite such support from global and regional powers, Egypt faces a deep economic and social crisis. Inflation reached a high of 36% in February and Egypt’s statistics agency CAPMAS has revealed that food prices rose by 50% in the past year. Since 2022, Egyptians have witnessed their currency lose value from EGP 15.7 to the dollar to EGP 49.4 to the dollar. According to official statistics, about 30% of the population are living below the poverty line — but the real figure is substantially higher.

Egypt’s ruling class can only finance its vast military spending and mega projects by substantially increasing public debt. Its external debt rose to $164.73 billion (the equivalent to 49% of GDP) in 2024 — Egypt is the second largest-debtor to the IMF — and total central governmental debt was 93% of GDP in 2023. Budget deficit is expected to rise at 10.1% of GDP this year.[8] 

Sisi’s only instrument to pay for his debts to the imperialists is, on one hand, to cut welfare spending, increase the exploitation of workers and poor and privatise state-owned enterprises. On the other hand, the regime sells out its country — not only in a metaphoric sense but also literally. Cairo already sold the Tiran and Sanafir islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.[9] Likewise, it wants to sell the Mediterranean town of Ras el-Hikma to UAE investors.[10]

Socialist solution

The military dictatorship in Egypt is a servant of the imperialist and regional powers, in particular the Zionist state, as well as of the local ruling class. Consequently, it is an enemy of the workers and popular masses of Egypt, of Palestine and the whole Arab world.

Hence, it is hardly surprising that the regime is hated by the popular masses as anti-social and anti-national. Given the brutal repression against all forms of opposition, Sisi has managed to stay in power until now. However, as the latest protests against the regime’s complicity with the starvation of Gaza have shown, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the regime to silence popular opposition.[11]

The struggle of the workers and oppressed in Egypt is by its very nature closely connected with the Palestinian liberation struggle and the Arab Revolution. Sisi, the monarchies of Saudi Arabia and UAE and Israel depend on each other — they must be jointly fought. Such a struggle must also aim to liberate the region from domination by any imperialist power. This can only be achieved via a permanent revolution which combines democratic and socialist tasks, and which brings the working class and the poor peasantry to power.

Michael Pröbsting is a socialist activist and writer. He is the editor of the website where a version of this article first appeared.


[1] See Lara Gibson: Is Egypt finding its path towards economic recovery? 12 March, 2024,; Maged Mandour: How Europe is profiting at the expense of Egypt's poor, Middle East Eye, 25 March 2024,; German Foreign Policy: Geld gegen Flüchtlinge, 19.03.2024

[2] Our latest article is Michael Pröbsting: Do You Know the latest Joke? The EU and Egypt’s General Sisi jointly fight against … “Terrorism”! 26 January 2022,

[3] The RCIT has published a number of pamphlets, statements and articles in the weeks after the military coup in July 2013. See e.g. RCIT: Egypt: Down with the Military Coup d’État! Prepare Mass Resistance! 8.7.2013,; RCIT: Egypt: International Solidarity against the Army Crackdown!, 14.8.2013,; Yossi Schwartz: Egypt: Mobilize Resistance against the reactionary military regime!, 27.7.2013,; Michael Pröbsting: The Military’s Coup d'État in Egypt: Assessment and Tactics, 17.7.2013,

[4] See on this e.g. Shehab Center for Human Rights: Human Rights Situation. Enforced Disappearances, Violations of Prisons and Places of Detention, 2021; Against Torture. A human rights report in the International Day of Support for Victims of Torture, monitors the methodology of torture in Egypt. A Joint Report by El-Shehab Center for Human Rights (SHR), Justice for Human Rights (JHR), Salam International Organization for the Protection of Human Rights (SPH), June 2020; Amnesty International: Report 2020/21. The State of the World’s Human Rights, pp. 146-151

[5] European imperialism has become painfully aware of the key role of the Suez Canal since the Houthis managed to blockade the maritime transport through the Red Sea in response to Israel’s genocidal war against the Palestinians in Gaza. See on this e.g. RCIT: From Zionist War on Gaza to Israeli-American War against Arab Peoples, 16 January 2024, 

[6] See on this e.g. Atef Said: Egypt Has Betrayed Palestinians in Their Time of Greatest Need, Truthout, March 31, 2024,

[7] We refer readers to a special page on our website where all RCIT documents on the 2023-24 Gaza War are compiled,

[8] Pascal Devaux : Egypt: Rising pressure on public finances, BNP Paribas, 02/13/2024,,49350 

[9] Al Jazeera: Why does Saudi Arabia want Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir? 16 July 2022,

[10] MEE: Has Egypt sold its 'most beautiful' beach town to the UAE? 2 February 2024,

[11] See e.g. Katherine Hearst: War on Gaza: Egyptian police disperse pro-Palestine Women's Day march in Cairo, 8 March 2024; Nabila El-Gaafary: Egypt detains police officer over anti-regime, pro-Palestine chants, 4 March 2024,