Ferocious and Fragile: Egypt and the Myth of ‘Authoritarian Stability’

Gennaro Gervasio , Andrea Teti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


During the Arab Uprisings (or ‘Arab Spring’) the EU recognised that the populations in its ‘Southern Neighbourhood’ had been marginalised politically and economically; that this produced instability in politics, economics, and security; and that EU policy needed to correct its previous mistake of equating authoritarian repression with stability. Unfortunately, the wrong lessons have been learned from the Uprisings: Europe’s Union and its most powerful states have returned to focusing ‘stability’ understood as a mere lack of change, and to believing that supporting violently authoritarian regimes is an acceptable ‘cost of doing business’ to keep migration in check and to counter terrorism in Europe’s ‘heartland’. After a brief review of the historical context within which Egypt’s current regime emerged, this contribution criticises the orthodox analytical and policy narratives which represent Egypt as a ‘beacon of stability’ in a turbulent MENA Region, outlining an alternative view which highlights the structural causes of instability in regimes like Egypt’s. It then outlines this instability by noting Egypt’s own post-2013 track record on key domestic and regional issues. The chapter concludes by criticising the way Western governments invoke the concept of ‘national interest’ to supporting al-Sisi’s (al-Sīsī) regime and those like it, noting that this approach reflects an inability to accept the evidence of the failure of authoritarian regimes to stabilise either internally or externally.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStates, Actors and Geopolitical Drivers in the Mediterranean
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives on the New Centrality in a Changing Region
EditorsFrancesca Corrao, Riccardo Redaelli
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-69000-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-68999-5
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Sept 2021


  • Mediterranean
  • Politics
  • International Relations
  • European Union
  • Middle East
  • North Africa
  • Egypt
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Algeria
  • Libya
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • democracy
  • Italy
  • autocracy
  • Arab Spring


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