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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More