In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Short Cuts: Harry Goes Rogue

Jonathan Parry

Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close

Conversations​ in Cairo are punctuated by dates: 11 February (Mubarak’s fall), 24 June (Morsi’s election), 30 June (Sisi’s coup), which takes a bit of getting used to. On the street murals depicting the martyrs are defaced with black ink; barbed wire, state-constructed barricades and gates used to seal off roads remain in place. My publisher, Karem Youssef, talks me through the geography of the uprising, describing how she herself was radicalised as week followed week. It’s too soon to treat the events nostalgically since, according to some, they are not yet over. I’m not sure about that, but what is indisputable is that hope is dead.

During and after the uprising Mubarak’s name stood for amorality, cynicism, duplicity, corruption, greed and opportunism. A few months after Morsi’s triumph at the polls, the same adjectives were being used to describe his rule, and soon it was being said that he was worse than Mubarak – a grotesque overstatement. The reality is that the Muslim Brotherhood, its supreme guide and its elected president were visionless sectarians, incapable of fulfilling the central demand of the uprising: ‘an end to the regime’. Morsi had no desire to unite the country by full-blooded democratisation: his ambition was to be an Islamist Mubarak. His drawling indolence and utter indifference to the needs of the country saw his unpopularity rise by the day. It wasn’t just urban liberals who turned against him. In mosque after mosque, I was told, and not by Sisi fans, ordinary believers stood up and challenged Brotherhood preachers after Friday prayers and khutba, accusing them of hypocrisy (a very strong condemnation in Islam) and of lining their own pockets.

The US ambassador, Anne Patterson (fresh from a stint in Pakistan), had hoped that Morsi would be an Egyptian Erdoğan, but quite apart from the fact that the model was losing his shine, the history and political dynamics of the two countries are very different. Snubbed by Sisi, attacked by the press for being ‘one-sided’ and partial to the Brothers, Patterson returned to Foggy Bottom in a huff. For the first time in years there is no US ambassador in town. The ‘international community’ isn’t too bothered: the Israelis are relieved that the military is back in power. Ever since Sadat opened the door to private investment the army have been good people to do business with in bad times, and like Morsi, the new saviour accepts that the peace treaty is sacrosanct. But the absence of an ambassador rankles with the Egyptians. It’s nine months since Patterson’s departure and the Egyptian Foreign Office is insisting that ‘diplomatic norms’ are being violated. More important than an ambassador is the military aid – $1.3 billion a year – and it has been partially frozen since the killings of Brotherhood supporters. In a message to Obama last week, Sisi put Washington’s rhetoric to good use, assuring the president that Egypt is ‘fighting a war against terrorism … The Egyptian army is undertaking major operations in the Sinai so it is not transformed into a base for terrorism that will threaten its neighbours and make Egypt unstable. If Egypt is unstable then the entire region is unstable.’

Obviously it would have been far better had Morsi been removed in a referendum rather than a coup, but the military decided otherwise and used the methods of the Arab Spring to hoist a new dictator to the presidency. General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former head of the Mukhabarat, was projected as the saviour of the nation. His image, the stern baby-face under the designer dark glasses, is everywhere. Sisi on his own, Sisi’s image next to Nasser’s, milking popular nostalgia for the leader who instituted agrarian reform, created state-subsidised industries, free education, imposed severe restrictions on foreign capital, implying that this is his model. It’s a badly crafted lie. It will be business as usual under Sisi, as attested by the number of upper-class women having their Nefertiti necklaces reset to include an image of the new pharaoh. The well-orchestrated Sisi-mania industry makes sure that there is a little something for everybody. I couldn’t believe that in the popular markets cheap women’s underwear was for sale with Sisi’s face imprinted on the v-spot, until I saw a picture. Attempts to purchase a few dozen proved futile. They had sold out. Just for the record, I didn’t try the Sisi Mix Sandwich, the Egyptian Hero/Saviour of Egypt chocolates, or Sisi Is My President Male Spray Cologne. The Sisi bra, I admit, is quite fetching, but not this time. Why no Sisi nappies? What better way for new-born citizens to meet their leader?

Two weeks before the general’s election, most of the activity in Cairo was on the TV screens. There were some encouraging signs. The day before I left, what had been billed as a huge pre-election rally for the main contender turned out to be a flop. Fewer than two thousand people to hear the ‘saviour of the nation’! A panicked bureaucracy hurriedly organised state employees, including out of uniform soldiers and cops, to make up the numbers, but a sulky Sisi decided that he wouldn’t show up either. It makes no difference. His victory is assured. And policies? Well, there are plenty of promises: 22 new industrial towns, 26 tourist hubs and eight new airports. Asked to be more specific, the saviour announced that he will curb youth unemployment – currently at 24.8 per cent or 6.5 million, though the real figures are much higher – by buying trucks to transport frozen meat to poor areas and hiring the drivers to get it there. Luckily Egyptians are known throughout the Arab world for their very special sense of humour.

What of the defeated opposition? They must be rooted out of society, Sisi declares. His presidential rival, Hamdeen Sabahi, a well-meaning but weak establishment figure, agrees with the general on many things. Within the space of three months, Egypt’s judges have brought their country’s good name into disrepute (a constitutional crime) by sentencing two lots of Brotherhood prisoners, 1100 in total, to death after collective trials that lasted barely ten minutes each. Liberals with short memories applaud. It’s the only way. A female journalist from al-Ahram lost it when I attacked the judiciary for the sentencing. ‘Too few, too few, we need more,’ she said as she switched off the recorder. More depressingly, an old friend and radical Copt intellectual, Hani Shukrallah, who chaired one of my talks, was taken aback by my hostility to Sisi. In private he said: ‘Please understand that there is a fight going on for Sisi’s soul.’ When I pointed out that it was military officers, not Morsi, who drove armoured vehicles through a largely Copt crowd outside state television headquarters, Hani nodded and muttered cynically: ‘I guess they had to start somewhere.’ A well-known example of coat-turning is Abdulrahman al-Abnudi, a radical icon since the 1960s: a poet who once insisted that intellect doesn’t attain its full force unless it attacks power, he now composes panegyrics to Sisi.

Apart from liberal folk inside the country, Sisi’s strongest supporters in the region are the Wahabi princes who run Saudi Arabia and loathe the Brotherhood, which has a presence throughout the Gulf and obtains state patronage from Qatar (hence the tense relations between Riyadh and Doha). Morsi’s forced removal was warmly welcomed in Riyadh and the Saudis reward their friends generously: they sent Egypt a $2 billion donation in the form of petrol products. In addition, from last April to August this year, free fuel to worth $3 billion will have flowed into the country. Fewer power cuts mean less public anger.

Even so, it will not be easy for the elected dictatorship to ease the discontent that is beginning to mount. The Egyptian Trade Union Federation is totally discredited and seen not so much as a bureaucracy but as a police force with powers to cajole, coerce, bribe or intimidate workers and their families. The new order will attempt to ban strikes and will, no doubt, imprison and torture unofficial trade unionists in order to enforce its will. The students at al-Azhar have been restive ever since the military takeover. The expulsions of some brought others out onto the streets. Repression followed in the form of tear gas and birdshot and severe beatings for the unfortunates in prison. Dozens of students were given four-year jail sentences. The media have been publicly warned to keep off the subject of corruption since it demoralises and provokes the people. Sisi himself insists that his sons got their jobs on their own merits. One is an officer in military intelligence; the other works for a state inspectorate that monitors corruption, contracts etc. Both are lucrative positions in great demand. The notion that the Sisi boys made it on their own is risible.

There will be growing revulsion against the cult. Of this I’m sure. And soon enough various factions within the establishment will be hard at work, fully absorbed in tactical games and jockeying for positions and contracts. And the Brothers? Ostracised, imprisoned, killed, those who remain will split: some will suggest a retreat from politics and others will insist on a militant, even an armed response. But, however much their opponents want to destroy them, it is not easy to kill several million people.

22 May

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.