News / Middle East

Egypt's Sissi Appears Virtually Unchallenged in Presidency Bid

Egypt's Sissi Announces Presidential Runi
X
Elizabeth Arrott
March 26, 2014 8:21 PM
Egyptian military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi resigns from the military to launch run for president against few viable opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more from Cairo.
Elizabeth Arrott
Egyptian military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has resigned from the military and announced he will run for president. With few viable opponents to challenge the field marshal, his official status as the nation's leader seems all but assured.

Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sissi appears poised to become Egypt's next president, following in the steps of Mohamed Morsi, the man he helped overthrow.

Sissi has the explicit backing of Egypt's all-powerful military. Commanders say “the people” have ordered him to run. And, indeed, the throngs that come out on the streets to support him insist he is the country's sole savior.  

Sissi campaigner and childhood friend Aly Hossan said, “There's no substitute ... at this moment. Anyone else would take us back to square one.”

That's exactly where his critics say Sissi will take them, however, returning the country to the kind of leadership Egyptians overthrew in 2011.

Activist and revolutionary socialist Tarek Shalaby said, “This goes against all that we stood for: against the militarization of the state, against having a brutal dictator from the army rule with an iron fist.”

Yet, when Morsi chose him to be his defense minister and chief of the armed forces in 2012, many saw Sissi as representing a break from the older generation of the military officers who had worked so closely with the old regime. His reputation as a devout Muslim made his loyalties unclear.

The next year, any doubt vanished. Mass protests broke out against Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president who in his one year in office alienated wide swathes of the populace with actions perceived as autocratic and too focused on Islamist policies.

Sissi moved swiftly, first against Morsi, then against Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood base.

While the crackdown further fueled Sissi's support base, some who initially supported Morsi's ouster were appalled. Critics, including secular activists and academics, found themselves facing arrest. Some went into exile abroad.

Any but overtly pro-government journalists became suspect, in particular those from Al-Jazeera. Twenty people with the Qatar-based network have been charged with links to terrorism and damaging the country's international reputation - a move rights advocates say has itself damaged the country's reputation.

But with Al Jazeera, and Qatar, popularly seen as supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, the government's actions also have added to Sissi's appeal. So, too, has the growing threat of a jihadist insurgency, which has claimed responsibility for deadly bombings in Cairo and elsewhere.

Some of his supporters compare Sissi to his childhood hero, President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who helped overthrow Egypt's monarchy. Some find him, like Nasser, charming.

Constitutional lawyer and scholar Ahmed Kamal Abu el Magd said, “He is a nice guy. He is tender and he is compassionate and he has a good sense of humor. And he has experience with the secret agents of the country. But how this is going to work out, I don't know.”

There also is another risk. Egyptian discontent is broad, fueled by chronic poverty, unemployment and a breakdown of social services. Even a massive infusion of Gulf Arab money after Morsi's fall has done little to improve daily life.

Cairo resident Mamoud al-Bottar said people love Sissi now, but he predicted that after six months of a Sissi presidency, “they will curse him,” adding, “because we are in a state that has fallen apart.”

Reviving Egypt's familiar dynamic of repression in the name of security has its own perils. Failing to address the basic concerns of protest-ready Egyptians may prove even riskier.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs