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12/14/2021 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – This week, Egypt was named the new chair of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa, replacing Nigeria in the one-year chairmanship. Despite longstanding human rights concerns for the north African country, Egyptian leaders will now inform the African Union (AU) regarding transnational security threats facing the continent.  

Upon assuming the role from Nigeria, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi highlighted his commitment to addressing cross-border terrorism as a major challenge to AU member states. In particular, groups like Boko Haram continue to conduct attacks and kidnappings in Nigeria and elsewhere in the region. 

Nigeria has dealt with significant internal violence for years, mostly at the hands of the Boko Haram terrorist group and militant Fulani herdsmen. Tens of thousands have been killed or abducted by these two groups, and hundreds of thousands have been internally displaced. 

1,900 civilians and government employees were killed by Boko Haram and Fulani militants in 2020 alone, according to ICC analysis of the situation. Much of the violence is concentrated in Christian-majority areas of the Middle Belt region. 

As Egypt enters this new role, many human rights watchers are keeping a close eye on the government. Egyptian authorities continue to detain religious freedom defenders even after the government lifted its four-and-a-half-year state of emergency. Additionally, the Biden administration has pressed Egypt on its human rights record recently and will surely be watching closely as the country enters this chairmanship as it is attempting to meet human rights benchmarks set by their American counterparts.  

In ensuring regional security in Africa, Egypt must make sure that human rights for all Africans are emphasized when evaluating and addressing intelligence threats.  

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