by Zafar Bangash (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 42, No. 12, Rabi' al-Thani, 1435)
How quickly has the Egyptian military led by the arch Zionist General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi exposed its hand? Sisi wants to be president of Egypt after claiming to eschew any such desire.
Egypt is well on its way to becoming a permanent military dictatorship. Decks have been cleared for Defence Minister, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to announce his candidacy for the president following “approval” of the constitution in a referendum on January 14 and 15. While the generals and their civilian henchmen claimed it was a step toward genuine democracy, those that tried to exercise their democratic right by calling for a boycott of the vote were not only prevented from doing so but many were beaten up and arrested. They are still in jail. Such is the flavor of military-approved democracy in Egypt.
Amr Moussa who headed the hand-picked constitutional committee that re-drafted the constitution, said el-Sisi would be unopposed in his presidential bid. Moussa knows where real power resides. For more than a decade he served as foreign minister in the Hosni Mubarak dictatorship. Later, he was elevated to the position of Secretary General of the Arab League, a gathering of tin pot dictators and other assorted potentates whose singular achievement has been to surrender the rights of the people to imperialists and Zionists.
Following the referendum in which the regime claimed 98% approval in an alleged voter turnout of 38.6% (the real figure was close to 15% and few if any of the youth participated in the process), the military immediately claimed it a great victory and “approval” of their brutal crackdown of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohamed Mursi, the first ever democratically elected President of Egypt in history was overthrown in a military coup on July 3, 2013. He has been accused of a raft of charges and is regularly hauled before the courts together with other Ikhwan leaders.
While the judicial mauling of Mursi and his supporters continues, Egypt’s top generals have cleared the way for el-Sisi to run for president. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), an exclusive club of Egypt’s top military officers, called the move a “mandate and an obligation” requested by “broad masses” of the public. They came to this conclusion following the carefully choreographed referendum to ensure they will get an overwhelming “yes” vote. If the “broad masses” are so supportive of the generals, why have they imposed a ban on protests? During the two days, rallies in support of the referendum were permitted and even encouraged but those opposed to it were brutally crushed. Dozens of protesters were killed, hundreds injured and many more were arrested, including women.
In an audio message broadcast on state television on January 27, the council praised el-Sisi for his work in the military, and for “responding to the call of duty.” It is interesting to note that the generals are always quick to praise themselves but will not countenance any criticism of the military, always wrapping themselves in the mantle of patriotism. “The council looks with reverence and respect at the desire of the masses of the honourable Egyptian people for the candidacy of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for the presidency,” the SCAF statement said. How about some freedom for the “honourable Egyptian people”?!
As if not to be left behind, the military-appointed interim president Adly Mansour promoted el-Sisi to the rank of field marshal. How many armies does el-Sisi command? According to generally accepted military rules, a field marshal is someone who commands many armies and has achieved great distinction on the battlefield. The only feather in el-Sisi’s cap, like generals throughout the Muslim world, is to conquer his own hapless people. The Egyptian military has a pathetic record vis-à-vis external enemies — the Zionist occupation army in Palestine, for instance. El-Sisi is in fact known to be a Zionist himself; his mother is of Jewish Moroccan origins and his maternal uncle was a member of the Israeli Knesset for nearly 15 years. It is astonishing how this arch Zionist has made it to the top post in the Egyptian military and is poised to become president of one of the most important countries in the Muslim East!
It was known that Mursi would not be allowed to complete his term of office despite his Ikhwan-backed party winning five consecutive elections in two years. The Egyptian establishment is dominated by the military and includes the business elite, judiciary as well as top ranking officials from the police. This cabal has controlled Egypt’s destiny for decades. It would have been unrealistic to assume that the establishment would allow a popularly elected president to remain in power for too long. But the speed with which el-Sisi struck and the brutal crackdown that followed especially last August surprised even the most seasoned observers. With vast powers in hand, the military could still not tolerate a people’s representative at the head of affairs.
El-Sisi’s plan to occupy the presidential palace means the military is not prepared to tolerate any rivals. There may be a few token candidates to oppose el-Sisi’s bid for the presidency but their chances of success are virtually zero since the military and its henchmen control all aspects of life in Egypt. The generals want to make sure that people understand who is boss. Talk about democracy and freedom is just that: talk.
There is little doubt that el-Sisi will win handily given the total control the military exercises. Once in power, however, el-Sisi will find the going tough. The Egyptian economy is in bad shape; Saudi and American handouts are not going to solve the people’s endemic problems. The military-backed regime has also blocked all charities linked with the Ikhwan that provided some relief to the people. The military does not care for the people; only for their own narrow selfish interests. The people have to pay the price for their military’s indulgence.