Egypt’s crackdown

Three journalists on trial for covering opposition political figures


Egypt's latest step away from democratic government consists of putting three journalists on trial for covering opposition political figures.

The journalists have been imprisoned without bail for more than nine weeks. Their employer, al-Jazeera, is known in the Middle East for its balanced coverage of events in the region, including Israel.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s military leader, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is positioning himself for election as president in a vote that is expected soon. His supporters are posting heroic photographs and posters of him across the country.

Only one minor political figure has said he plans to run against Mr. el-Sisi, who is likely to be elected by a large margin. The Muslim Brotherhood, which won Egypt’s last elections, is outlawed.

President Obama’s administration continues to pretend that Mr. el-Sisi did not overthrow Egypt’s elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in a coup d’etat last July. To do so would require Washington to cut off Egypt’s $1.2 billion in annual military aid, which it does not want to do. Egyptian leaders use the aid to pay American military contractors for producing the weapons they use to stay in power.

America’s sacrifice of support for democracy in Egypt in exchange for supposedly improved stability in the region probably won’t work. That expectation presumes Egyptians’ acceptance that the spring of democracy that resulted in free elections — even if some of them didn’t like the outcome — has run dry.

They probably won’t. Mr. el-Sisi will face continuing resistance and the need to employ violence to suppress it — meaning continued unrest in Egypt.