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The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged sisi for president
In Translation: Letter to Sisi

The talented team at the professional translation service Industry Arabic brings you this installment in our regular In Translation series.

Letter to Sisi: Why do they object to your candidacy?

Moataz Bellah Abdel-Fattah, al-Watan, March 28, 2014

A statesman is like someone driving a very large vehicle with many mirrors and gauges; he has to pay attention to all of them at once and to pick up on warning signs in time. All of this he must handle with the requisite wisdom.

Presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi began his electoral campaign Wednesday and many – I believe the majority – celebrated his announcement of candidacy. However, it is a poor political and strategic calculation on the part of candidate Sisi and his team to not pay attention to those rejecting his candidacy, some of whom have said outright: “He’s entered the trap” and “He’ll drink from the same cup.”

The efficiency of Sisi’s campaign will come from its ability to deal with the objections raised against him by his opponents. He and his campaign must answer these questions and prove the soundness of his position.

For example, when I asked what the main reasons advanced by some of those rejecting Sisi’s candidacy are, I got the following responses:

1. He’s a billionaire who has not and will not feel the pain of the vast majority of the people suffering every day. This is evidenced by his statement that people should “tighten their belt and go to work”, which indicates a mindset far from that of the people and their reality.

 2. All of his experience is with the military. He hasn’t worked in any other fields -- political, social, or economic. This is no time for experiments and learning on the job in a country whose economy is on its last legs and whose infrastructure is collapsing.

3. He’s not an independent decision-maker. Just as Morsi was a deputy of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sisi will represent and take orders from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Thus SCAF will be the true ruler, and all state institutions will exist merely for appearance’s sake and as a cover for oppressive military rule.

4. He’s connected to the interests of Mubarak’s corrupt regime and the National Democratic Party (NDP). He appointed [Prime Minister Ibrahim] Mehleb, a member of the NDP’s Policy Committee and assistant to Gamal Mubarak, to be Egypt’s prime minister—after two revolutions. This is the biggest catastrophe of all, and shows the orientations and intentions of Sisi as well of those close to him once he takes power.

5. It’s not possible to guarantee fair and impartial elections, because SCAF supports him and is nominating him out of a true eagerness for power, and at the same time it is the only one protecting the ballot boxes at night after the observers and judges leave.

6. The absence of equal opportunity and fair competition. One candidate has all the state’s bodies and intelligence agencies on his side. The state media is fully under their service, polishing his image and supporting him hypocritically, broadcasting lies about his competitors, spreading delusions, and exaggerating his popularity such that it surpasses that of the prophets and messengers.

7. His entire history is one of assisting Mubarak and keeping quiet about corruption. By virtue of his position as a director of Mubarak’s intelligence services* and as direct assistant to Mubarak, he witnessed, participated in, or supported much of Mubarak's own corruption and collaborated with him. Then under Tantawi he was directly responsible for the virginity tests scandal and for killing and shooting at the eyes of protestors in Mohamed Mahmoud and other confrontations. He was a member of SCAF when it handed the country over to the Muslim Brotherhood, and he didn’t refuse or resign. Instead, Morsi appointed him minister of defense in appreciation of his efforts to crush the January revolution and the revolutionaries, which was in their mutual interest. All this with a direct recommendation from Tantawi, leader of the counter-revolution!

8. He is not an independent decision maker when it comes to national issues. Most of the training, study, and intelligence experience he received before being appointed a director of intelligence was in the United States and England.

9. More than half the population hates him and regards him as an enemy. More than six million elected Morsi, and four million elected Aboul Fotouh. Most revolutionaries, five million of whom voted for Hamdeen Sabahi, view him as an enemy of the revolution and a continuation of the comic theatre of military rule over 22 million. A state can’t be built cooperatively with a public who knows that their ruler will be chosen by deception, forgery, and force.

10. Continued rule of civil institutions by military men. Most of the state’s problems come down to the fact that the head of the largest institutions and authorities in Egypt are generals who don’t know and are not proficient or qualified in the field to which they are appointed. Thus, corruption and cronyism continue and the person who is trusted and loyal to the regime is preferred over the person with experience. This is the basis of corruption in Egypt.

11. He won’t empower his opposition and dreams of democracy and a ‘state of institutions’ will be lost, and with them all the goals of the revolution. From now on, anyone who joins a protest to demand anything will be called a terrorist and arrested or sentenced to death. The accusations are ready-made, the ruling will be issued in days, and the trials will be in military courts – even if you just happened to be walking near a demonstration. Under him, all opposition will be classified as ‘traitors’ and ‘agents’ who want to wipe out and destroy the army. There will be no one to protect the people from his tyranny, since the army will be completely with him in his tyranny and injustice.

12. All of this will have a very dangerous effect on the army’s attention to its main duty, which is protecting the country from foreign threats. The bloodshed will start to build a wall and lead to enmity and reprisals between the army and the people. This will completely ruin the idea of electing Sisi for the sake of stability, because having the military in power is a great danger to Egypt and its stability.

13. Sisi is one of the main sources of the rigid divisions in Egypt and it is self-deceptive to think that he could be a source of unity or that he will be able to lead everyone all together in a nation-building project. A large percentage of Egyptians (especially the youth segment set on change) thinks that he won’t fulfill their aspirations and in fact see him as a symbol of something they want to get rid of (military rule) in order to get on with building a modern civil state. What is certain is that he will win the elections in light of a wide boycott by this segment and by every party opposed to the road map, which is no small percentage of the people. 14. The many wrongs that have occurred and which many people believe he bears responsibility for. True, the media doesn’t show this picture and instead shows us something false, but the content of this picture has settled in the consciousness of a large number of people, including the relatives, neighbors, and friends of innocent individuals who have been killed and wounded. Same with the detainees, etc.

Here the comments from Facebook friends end. These comments are repeated by them in their private gatherings. I know that many are imprecise and can be refuted, but my goal in this article is not to answer on behalf of the presidential candidate. Rather it is to let him and his campaign know that Egypt is like a worn out rubber raft, suffering from age and exposure, making anyone in it a knife or sharp object capable of puncturing a hole. The message has been received. It’s up to you to act.
And may God protect us.

* Sisi was Director of Military Intelligence in the last years of the Mubarak regime and until August 2012, when President Mohammed Morsi named him Minister of Defense.


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"