The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

In Translation: Sisi for president

This editorial by Ahmed Samir appeared in Al Masry Al Youm on October 12. It is translated, as usual, by the excellent team at Industry Arabic.  

Sisi for President: The Turn, the Turn, the Turn, the Turn


The Place: The Republican Guard headquarters

The Time: Days after the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi

The Event: The Brotherhood’s sit-in, followed by clashes in which dozens of Morsi supporters are killed.

And those who joined the Brotherhood are astounded.

For an entire year, the organization prepared to crush those whom Mohamed Abdel-Maqsud described as “atheists and hypocrites.” The Brotherhood did not understand why the “Get angry, Morsi!” campaign did not succeed, while the “Grind them to pieces, Sisi” campaign did… when the smartest one of them is a grocer in Zad supermarket. [1]

They didn't understand a simple truth: the security state is loyal only to the security state.

The Guidance Bureau's use of the organization's police dogs to break up the sit-in by Morsi's opponents at the presidential palace was proof that Morsi's continued hypocrisy towards the police and the many changes that he made in the Ministry of Defense, the intelligence apparatus, the Ministry of Interior, and the Republic Guard were not enough – and the organization had to do its own suppressing.

Afterwards, the Brotherhood chose a minister who suited them, and suited what they wanted to do in the country.

After this minister was appointed, the police killed dozens of people in front of Port Said Prison because they were armed (doesn't that accusation remind you of something?) before opening fire on their funeral the following day -- to the cheers of our brothers in God.

Ibrahim is Morsi's choice… but they brought him on for a reason. He did not carry his mission out in full for them, but did so for someone else. The question is, why?


"He was afraid that he would be accused of using force."

This delicate phrase does not refer to the artist Nancy Ajram, but to General Mohamed Ibrahim, the Interior Minister.

According to Ahmed Mekki, the former Minister of Justice, Ibrahim refused more than once to "break up the Tahrir Square sit-in by force."

The brothers in God in Morsi's government, most of whom are now carrying the picture of a sit-in that was broken up by force, wanted to break up their enemies' sit-in by force, but the same minister refused.

It is clear – extremely clear – that Mohamed Ibrahim is now not afraid of being put on trial.

But what does this all have to do with Sisi?

To put it simply, if Sisi becomes president, Mohamed Ibrahim will stay, and no Mohamed Ibrahim will ever have to worry about being put on trial.


Sisi for president…

Optimism is treason. No tourism, no investment, no stable international relations, and therefore no social justice. How can social justice be achieved when there is not even production or growth?

For the sake of security, they want those who frighten us to rule. Did you know, my fellow citizen, that the largest share of bombings over the last decade has occurred during the past 100 days?

The country is headed towards ruin, and those who promised nothing but security have failed to achieve it. Still, they want their turn in the seat of power.


The turn, the turn, the turn, the turn.

You're lucky, it's your turn

Her destiny

This one it's her turn, this one it's her turn[2]


It's often said now in Egypt that the first person who chanted "This time for sure, we're not budging for anyone"[3] was General Sisi speaking to his chief of staff.

Once, we were told that we could not take away a citizen's right to run for president simply because he is the president's son, and now we are told that we can't take away a citizen's right simply because he is the defense minister in a country ruled by an emergency law and curfew.

They say that the people are looking for a leader… the same people told us in 2005 that the people are looking for a young man.

Since time immemorial, we've been living in a free country in which everyone in power has an equal opportunity to run for president.

Will you uphold the tradition?


He said, as he said as he said

Surround her with tambourines, clap for her

He said, as he said as he said

Who can appreciate this beauty, this beauty

Other than eyes that hope for her… perfume her with incense


The Director of Military Intelligence during Mubarak's time; a member of the military council in Tantawi's time; and Defense Minister during Morsi's time.

For some reason, a certain segment of society does not consider him their preferred candidate for president.

The Defense Minister is a candidate for president, which means that for many years to come, our slogan will be "Down with military rule."

They will say that the Defense Minister is not military rule. They will also say that the sun is not in the sky and we are imagining things.

Those who believe that the just state will last for an hour and the military state will last forever say that the people love him, don't dismiss the people. Good logic… but the Brotherhood won five elections – all overseen by Sisi and his military council – so why is their outcome being dismissed?

It is said that the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different outcome, so how should we describe those who have tried the same thing for 60 years, and now want a different outcome?

The soldiers of Islamic preaching are gone and the soldiers of the nation have arrived. We've gotten rid of the Islamist Salafis so that the Nasserite Salafis can rule us. Those who aren't able to bring us into the future are content to rule us and harp on about the past.

We do not need a military president. How many times have callers phoned into the program to say "Egypt is full of talent, Captain Shobier"?[4]


Her destiny has come to her, her destiny

Bringing something she never expected

This one it's her turn, this one it's her turn


Whoever wants to have everything, loses everything.

Those who want to control political life in the way that it has been for 60 years, may be taking the chance that we will discuss everything with the presidential candidate, starting with the armed forces' budget, and including lands controlled by the armed forces.

It is their right to call for Sisi to run for office, and it is our right to be against that.

Sisi promised that he would not run, and that the military institution would not support a candidate… didn't they see?

How many before them who broke their promise not to run for president has God destroyed?

Some say we can count on Sisi's intelligence – that he realizes the danger of running for office. Do not bet on anyone's intelligence, since it is well known that the only lesson one can learn from history is that no one learns from history.

They say that he is in the lead in any opinion poll. Did the lion of Islamic preaching, the young people's lost one, the king of Maryotia Hazem Abu Ismail do anything but lead the same polls for a year and a half?

We are not spoils to be had, and whoever wants to consider us as such, let him have his turn. History shows that those who insist on military trials for civilians end up in civilian trials for the military.

Ultimately, countries of the future are not going to be ruled by armies. Those who want to wage a war against the future will soon become the past.


The song The Turn the Turn… The Turn the Turn, a relevant link.

[1]A reference to Khairat al-Shater's son, Saad al-Shater, founder of the Zad supermarket chain, with a pun on the name "Shater," which means "smart, clever" in Arabic.

[2] These songs lyrics, which are quoted as a recurring motif throughout this article, are taken from a 1985 play about Egypt's most infamous serial killers, Raya and Sakina, who went on a grisly killing spree in Alexandria in the early 20th century. In the play, this song is sung by Raya and Sakina as they are preparing to kill their next victim.

[3] A common protest chant in Egypt over the past several years that is being ironically attributed to Sisi – with something of a different meaning.

[4] Captain Shobier is the popular host of a sports program called "Captain Shobier's News"