by Ayman Ahmed (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 47, No. 1, Jumada' al-Akhirah, 1439)
Egypt will hold presidential elections from March 26–28. General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s latest dictator, drove all challengers from the race through threats, coercion, and outright brutality. Almost everyone was accused of “creating instability,” “spreading sedition” and “posing a threat to the country’s security.”
Obviously, only el-Sisi represents “stability” and “security”; anyone challenging him, even in a presidential contest that he has called, must be a traitor. If there are no challengers allowed to run against el-Sisi, why go through the farce at all?
The brute in uniform and his minions have thought of that as well. El-Sisi’s former campaign manager, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, chairman of the Ghad Party, was shoed-in as a last minute candidate to stand “against” el-Sisi. He will serve as the token opposition to project the notion that a free and fair electio is taking place.
Thus a contest of sorts is created in which el-Sisi would win a “massive majority” to create the illusion that he has popular support. Seeing this whole exercise as a farce, eight opposition parties denounced the elections as “absurd,” and signed a joint declaration asking voters to boycott the vote. They said el-Sisi was getting in the way of “any fair competition.”
That is an understatement. El-Sisi will not allow any competition. He is aware that in any real contest that has even a modicum of fairness, he would surely lose. Thus, el-Sisi, like all his notorious predecessors, does not want to take any chances. Instead, he wants to create the illusion of a contest in which he would be a shoe-in.
The opposition’s boycott campaign centres round the slogan, “Stay at home,” coined by Hamdeen Sabahi, a controversial politician with a murky past. He has been urging all political parties to fight back against el-Sisi’s “brutal tyranny of power.”
Sabahi, who heads the Popular Current Party, ran against el-Sisi in the May 2014 election, evoking much criticism from other political parties and figures. They accused Sabahi of lending legitimacy to a farcical exercise. Ever the opportunist, Sabahi had defended his stance in an interview with the Egyptian daily al-Ahram in 2014. He said that a military man running for president would “not have been accepted” right after the June 30, 2013 protests against the elected government of President Mohamed Mursi.
Sabahi led those protests at the behest of the military to destabilize an elected government. Whatever Mursi’s flaws — and there were many — a military coup was not the answer. Using the engineered protests, el-Sisi grabbed power. As soon as he arrested the leading figures of the elected government, he unleashed the army against innocent civilians, many of them women and children, and murdered them in cold blood. It was one of the most brutal massacres of civilians in recent history.
If he was hoping to get some crumbs from el-Sisi’s table, Sabahi was disappointed. Despite this, he allowed himself to be used and stood against el-Sisi in the 2014 presidential elections. In elections organized by the military regime, Sabahi got a mere 3%. El-Sisi claimed victory with a “96% vote.” Anything less would have been considered an insult.
Why are dictators so fond of going through an election farce when they have all the power and any challenger would be immediately locked up behind bars? Elections, even if totally contrived, give dictators an aura of respectability when they strut about the world stage. They can claim a “popular mandate” when the reality is very different.
In the run-up to this month’s elections, Sami Enan, the former army chief, was also forced to back out. Enan was el-Sisi’s boss before Mursi elevated the latter to the top spot. Clearly, el-Sisi will not brook any opposition from anyone, even his former military boss.
El-Sisi has a murky past and background. His maternal grandmother was of Jewish origins from Morocco. His maternal uncle was a member of the Israeli Knesset and was a member of David Ben Gurion’s party. How did el-Sisi manage to get into the military with such a background and rise to the army top spot? Surely, when el-Sisi was growing up, Egypt was at war with Zionist Israel. How did he manage to get into the Egyptian military academy in the first place?
El-Sisi also has close links with Bani Saud, another notorious clan. Like Bani Israel, Bani Saud are also in illegal occupation of the Holy Land. Bani Saud financed el-Sisi’s coup against the elected Mursi. Thus, Bani Saud also have the blood of innocent people on their hands. They are complicit in el-Sisi’s crimes. The Bedouin head-choppers would take this as a compliment.
Egypt, an important country in the Muslim East (aka Middle East) has been reduced to penury by successive military regimes. The once proud Egyptian people have been so brainwashed that many of them have come to believe that the military are their saviors. Unfortunately, this is not confined to the Egyptians alone. Many other Muslims are guilty of the same impression.
It is, however, particularly painful in the case of Egypt because its people are highly educated. Egypt is also the seat of al-Azhar, the oldest Islamic seat of learning in the Muslim world. It could be one of the leading players in the Muslim world. Instead, it serves as an imperialist-Zionist-Saudi colony where the people are brutalized, demoralized, and humiliated by the thugs in uniform. And they have many civilian accomplices to advance their nefarious agenda of loot and plunder.