Abdel al-Sisi visits Vladimir Putin in Russia: Egypt as a new member of the League of Authoritarian States


Egyptian President Abdel al-Sisi has visited Vladimir Putin in Russia, seeking to build closer relations with the Russian dictator and his authoritarian state.

As two authoritarian leaders they have a lot in common, including a willingness to trample on human rights and the rule of law whenever they think it will help them achieve their ends.

In Egypt, al-Sisi while mouthing the words of a democratic song, has reportedly been conducting a “dirty war” like the one in Chile under Augusto Pinochet in the 1970’s, with perceived opponents simply “disappearing” from the streets or suffering other dark fates.

Nonetheless, Angela Merkel of Germany and the U.S., like others, have embraced al-Sisi either to clinch business deals or to join cause with him in his war against the Muslim Brotherhood (a non-violent group until 2012) and jihadist terrorist groups in the region.

In Egypt, the results to date have not been encouragng, with a sharp increase in terrorist activity both in the Sinai and in Cairo and the heart of the country itself.

To be sure, to their credit, Egyptian religious leaders at al-Azhar University in Cairo have taken the lead in denouncing the distorted theology of the Islamic State and adopting measures to counter its influence, by refuting its theological bases within the framework of Islam. Al-Azhar University represents the highest religious authority within Sunni Islam.


(1) Daniel Steinvorth, “Ägpytisch-russische Beziehungen: Sisi sucht die Nähe zu Putin; So richtig warm geworden ist der Westen bisher nicht mit Ägyptens Präsident Sisi. Umso freundlicher empfängt Russlands Staatschef Putin den Ex-General aus Kairo, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, 26. August 2015 (21:04 Uhr).

(2) Martin Gehlen, “ÄGYPTEN: Schmutziger Krieg gegen die Jugend: In Ägypten verschwinden junge Oppositionelle. Sie werden von der Staatssicherheit entführt, manche ermordet wie zu Zeiten der Militärdiktatur in Chile, Die Zeit, 22. Juni 2015 (15:02 Uhr).

(3) “REPRRISE: ‘The League of Authoritarian States’—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #50,” The Trenchant Observer, July 19, 2012 (first published June 9, 2012).

They justify their actions by reference to the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of any state, as guaranteed in the U.N. Charter.

They ignore, however, that in the 21st century “sovereignty” does not include the right to commit genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, or even the violation of other fundamental human rights. The growth and development of international law has led to treaties and state practice interpreting international law that limit the sovereignty of a nation to undertake acts such as those referred to above.

No Dictator, no authoritarian regime, has that right.

The battle is joined, between the international community which supports human rights and international law, including international criminal law, on the one hand, and the League of Authoritarian States, on the other, whose members believe a Dictator should have such a “right”, and who are willing to block the effective responses of the international community by vetoing resolutions in the Security Council.

Undoubtedly other governments will join the League of Authoritarian States, in order to protect their own ability to use terror including war crimes and crimes against humanity to retain their hold on power.

One fundamental question remains: Can you effectively defend civilization against barbarians by undertaking or endorsing actions which violate its most fundamental norms, including respect for human rights and the rule of law?

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.