In Selected Opinion

By – The New York Times

Egypt’s strongman repeats Hosni Mubarak’s errors, to everyone’s peril.

Several years ago, in Cairo, I asked Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to name Hosni Mubarak’s biggest mistake. “He stayed in power for a long time,” Egypt’s sixth president said of its fourth, who ruled like a pharaoh for nearly 30 years before being toppled in the heady early days of the (mislabeled) Arab Spring.

Since then, el-Sisi, who took power in a 2013 military takeover, was “re-elected” to a new term with 97 percent of the vote, and has amended the Constitution to potentially stay in power until 2030. He seems to imagine he’s popular.

On Thursday I was invited to join a group of about 25 people to meet el-Sisi at New York’s Palace Hotel, where he was staying for his visit to the U.N. General Assembly. The meeting was held under the Chatham House Rule, which prevents me from quoting anything that was said — except that el-Sisi went on the record to invite me to tour some new construction in Egypt that he asked me not to describe as palaces. (I accepted.)

“Where will I receive President Trump?” he says of the man who calls him his “favorite dictator,” adding that the cost of these nonpalaces is “nominal” and that their style needs to be “suitable.”

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