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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid