Learning The Basics

by Conor Friedersdorf

In 2007, Ken Silverstein filed this Harper's piece, which is opinionated but useful background if you're reading up on Egypt. Speaking of background, this passage from the Web page at Foggy Bottom is also useful – the first paragraph for it's info (I'll admit I didn't know all that!) and the second paragraph to get a sense for how the US goverment positioned itself:

Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world and the second-most populous on the African continent. Nearly all of the country's 80 million people live in Cairo and Alexandria; elsewhere on the banks of the Nile; in the Nile delta, which fans out north of Cairo; and along the Suez Canal. These regions are among the world's most densely populated, containing an average of over 3,820 persons per square mile (1,540 per sq. km.), as compared to about 200 persons per sq. mi. for the country as a whole... The literacy rate is about 58% of the adult population. Education is free through university and compulsory from ages six through 15...

On October 6, 1981, Islamic extremists assassinated President Sadat. Hosni Mubarak, Vice President since 1975 and air force commander during the October 1973 war, was elected President later that month. He was subsequently confirmed by popular referendum for four more 6-year terms, most recently in September 2005. Mubarak has maintained Egypt's commitment to the Camp David peace process, while at the same time re-establishing Egypt's position as an Arab leader. Egypt was readmitted to the Arab League in 1989. Egypt also has played a moderating role in such international fora as the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement.