Why Al-Sisi Should Not Be Egypt’s Next President

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“If the lion is the most efficient king of the jungle, would you take him out of his habitat, and tell him to go rule the tundra?”

A woman holds up a poster of Field Marshall Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi during the third anniversary of the January 25 revolution.

A woman holds up a poster of Field Marshall Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi during the third anniversary of the January 25 revolution.

By Niño Rojo, contributor, EgyptianStreets.com

When I was in Cairo, earlier this month, children were selling posters proclaiming, “Al-Sisi is my president,” through car windows during traffic jams. In the streets of Luxor, grown men were dancing and singing in praise of Al-Sisi’s name. Words such as lion and salvation have been synonymous with the stock photo of Al-Sisi’s face that has been seen on walls, streets, and businesses in all cities of Egypt. As far as I was concerned, Al-Sisi was the next Che Guevara.

Needless to reiterate, Al-Sisi is a great, moral man and a strategic, military aficionado. Under his leadership, the Egyptian military disposed Mohamed Morsi’s administration and established the interim government that has adopted a new, progressive Egyptian constitution. Thanks to Al-Sisi and the military, the streets are undergoing security from dynamic threats, ranging from car bombs to terrorists who lack the appreciation for historical art and humans lives. However, did the majority of Egyptian citizens know who Al-Sisi was prior to June 30, 2013? Honestly, did you?

A street vendor shows a photographer for the AFP posters of Al-Sisi that are on sale.

Think of all the discrepancies that metamorphosed into revolution in Egypt. Was it high unemployment in the youth population? How about the gap between rich and poor, the Middle East and the West? Was it unpopular international politics? In addition to these social, economic, and political threats, the Egyptian military is targeting the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, and the streets are destabilizing every day. Add additional security problems to Egypt’s grocery list of “things that are wrong.”

If the lion is the most efficient king of the jungle, would you take him out of his habitat, and tell him to go rule the tundra? When Egypt is in a volatile security environment, why would you take Egypt’s most effective military leader out of his role and place him in another role in which he has no professional experience?

“Al-Sisi is the most suitable candidate for presidency, there are no other candidates.” Al-Sisi is considered a suitable candidate for presidency because he is popular. He was enthroned after the overthrow of the Morsi administration. Yes, Egypt could unite behind Al-Sisi’s image. However, image and popularity are not the pre-requisites necessary for an effective president (I mean, look at Ronald Regan). Egypt needs a politician, not a Field Marshall. It is important to differentiate between these two categories and understand that being an effective military leader does not make you an effective president.

"Sisi mania" started in June and July 2013, when shortly before and after Morsi was deposed.

“Sisi mania” started in June and July 2013, when shortly before and after Morsi was deposed.

If Al-Sisi were to become president, he would grant, either directly or indirectly, more power to the Egyptian military. Not because he is a crazy military tycoon and wants to rule the world, but because that is his house of governance and subject matter expertise. Al-Sisi is not a diplomat or a politician; military diplomacy is not the answer. Al-Sisi is not a business professional who knows to attract foreign investors to Egypt, improve small business, and incite international development transformation in Egypt. Al-Sisi does not have a background in academia and civil rights in order to provide equal opportunities for Egyptians of various backgrounds. Frankly, Al-Sisi is not qualified for a presidency. He is qualified to be a Field Marshall.

If Al-Sisi becomes president of Egypt, the country will be posed for failure. It is not possible for Al-Sisi to improve the Egyptian economy, construct a brand new political structure in a transitioning nation, and control Egyptian security measures solely under his direction. Al-Sisi will focus his attention and time into a secure, military state and the other areas that require improvement will fail helplessly.

Gone too far? A chocolate store owner displays one of her most popular products (Credit: Al-Monitor).

Gone too far? A chocolate store owner displays one of her most popular products (Credit: Al-Monitor).

Just because he is popular does not mean he can save Egypt. The Egyptian people are placing too much faith into a photo on the street, too much faith into the idea of Al-Sisi rather than the capability of Al-Sisi. Al-Sisi will have a rapid, hard fall from grace if he fails to give the Egyptian people their desires, which has a high probability of happening. Egypt cannot risk a third failure.

While Al-Sisi directs the military, another qualified statesman should lead Egypt’s transition into a new governance structure. For example, Amr Moussa is an experienced, fielded diplomat that has many connections in foreign affairs, which would improve Egypt’s presence in the international community.  However, it is not merely foreign affairs that need to be improved. The administration needs equality for all, innovation, and leaders who are not susceptible to corruption. The administration needs morals and big ideas. A game plan, if you will. Egypt fell into a second-phase of revolution because there was not a solid, justified plan after the first revolution. Ideas do not make democracy. Ideas do not feed your family. People do. Qualified people.

Is military rule what Egyptians passionately took to the streets - twice - for?

Is military rule what Egyptians passionately took to the streets – twice – for?

I encourage Egyptians to do their research and choose qualified candidates for president– candidates who understand and have a proven track record of politics, foreign affairs, economics, and civil rights. Leave security and the military to Al-Sisi in order to maintain a safer country.  During his tenure at US Army War College, Al-Sisi wrote an entire thesis on how cultural and historical aspects of the Middle East are not conducive to an effective, secular democracy. If he does not believe it could happen, why should you vote for him as president?

As my friend joked at dinner in Cairo, “A military coup? How 1950s of Egypt.” It’s 2014, and he’s right. Egypt has been unstable for too long, and it’s time to enact actual change.

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  • http://omoshref.wordpress.com omoshref

    “Al-Sisi wrote an entire thesis on how cultural and historical aspects of the Middle East are not conducive to an effective, secular democracy” This is exactly the opposite of what he actually wrote in his “17-page thesis”. It is not actually a thesis if you read it. It is just a paper. Review your reading http://www.foreignpolicy.com/files/war-college-paper.pdf

  • swilts

    Everything in the article is correct apart from the offensive remark about Ronald Reagan. He was a great president who helped end the tyranny of socialism in eastern Europe and brought down the Berlin wall. He was also an excellent president who left the US economy in better shape than he found it. Shame people have to make ill researched glib remarks

  • Sally

    That is what is wrong with Egypt’s military. It should not be involved in food production, it should not be using conscripts as free Labour. It should not be grabbing land from people and living like lords on other people’s hard work. I cannot believe Egyptians are so easily fooled over and over again.

  • https://www.facebook.com/ahmed.dessouki.50 Ahmed Dessouki

    Al Sissi secures stability and maintains order within the egyptian state. Egypt is quite different from any other modern states in terms of education, economic state and run for power. As a result of poor educational state, people voted for Morsey who showed no ability of managing a state. It kills me to say that Egypt say that as a result of the bad education, egyptian people are not ready for the demanded presidential democracy or competition between candidates. They were manipulated into choosing Morsey based on religious promises and background. On the other hand the modern german people for example or any modern country are educated enough to wisely choose a president. Secondly, Al Sissi does not have an economic background but he has the power to create a political atmosphere that contributes into improving the economical state of Egypt. During the uprising, the streets were full of violence and weren’t stable. As a result, many companies closed resulting in the loss of money. Al Sissi secures safety of the people so that they can work with no worries. My third point is that there will be no competition and no manipulation. The people know Al sissy and he was proved to be loyal. I’m not saying Al sissy is a perfect choice but he is the best option for the next 4 years or maybe 8 until we are finally able to have this political awareness of the modern countries. Last but not least, Al Sissy will hopefully surround himself with the most knowledgable and well educated people of the Egyptian society and therefore he will take the country to another level.

    • swilts

      Yes stability after they deliberately made it unstable by not keeping order and not allowing fuel deliveries. Disorder suited the military plan after all they have nothing else to offer.

      • Anonymous

        You just don’t expect the military to change everything and wipe out all the work of the i5wan. The military is fighting in Sinai against terrorism. Moreover, Cairo is bombed every weekend by el e5wan who don’t want anything but show violence. By stability i meant maintaining order within a state and achieving security in the streets and this cannot be fully achieved in a transitional period specially with the absolute violence of E5wan

  • Anonymous

    Al Sissi secures stability and maintains order within the egyptian state. Egypt is quite different from any other modern states in terms of education, economic state and run for power. As a result of poor educational state, people voted for Morsey who showed no ability of managing a state. It kills me to say that Egypt say that as a result of the bad education, egyptian people are not ready for the demanded presidential democracy or competition between candidates. They were manipulated into choosing Morsey based on religious promises and background. On the other hand the modern german people for example or any modern country are educated enough to wisely choose a president. Secondly, Al Sissi does not have an economic background but he has the power to create a political atmosphere that contributes into improving the economical state of Egypt. During the uprising, the streets were full of violence and weren’t stable. As a result, many companies closed resulting in the loss of money. Al Sissi secures safety of the people so that they can work with no worries. My third point is that there will be no competition and no manipulation. The people know Al sissy and he was proved to be loyal. I’m not saying Al sissy is a perfect choice but he is the best option for the next 4 years or maybe 8 until we are finally able to have this political awareness of the modern countries. Last but not least, Al Sissy will hopefully surround himself with the most knowledgable and well educated people of the Egyptian society and therefore he will take the country to another level.

  • Mohamed

    I love the article and I totaly agree but i have one quick question: Who do you think then in egypt’s current state may fit for presidency other than el sisi?

    • Anonymous

      IF DRUNKER J.W.BUSH becomed president of superpower-without any knowladge,who is president or primeminister of european countries, El Sisi is very fit for egyptian presidency.

  • Omar

    There are no qualified candidates at this very moment and if people see fit a more qualified candidate then feel free to vote, its simple as that. Moreover a political leader does not necessarily need to be qualified for example in the field of economics and business development to lead a country. This is the role of the Ministry and the deployment of qualified ministers for their corresponding role. Finally if the author read his thesis one would know that he tried to illustrate the factors of how Western Democracy would sometimes clash with some Cultural and political values in the middle east. He also provided his own opinion how how democracy should work in the Middle East.
    Finally for all interested in reading Sisi’s Paper the link is down below:
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/files/war-college-paper.pdf

  • Carole T.

    Obama was a popular candidate and now has the lowest approval rating ever. If Al-Sisi does get elected he will hopefully surround himself with the most knowledgable people. The sign of a good leader is picking the right people. Amr Moussa is too old and too circumspect in his dialectic, Sabbahi too pro-socialism, Fotouh “ex” Brotherhood. Would Shafik stand a chance if he came back? Who’s left that anyone knows or cares about?

  • Anonymous

    Have you read his thesis? I think not :)

  • Anonymous

    I am not sure if one can find a good president anywhere else on this planet. It is time to try someone that is not a politician. How worst can it get when compared to other presidents, say from Russia, France, Italy, eastern European countries, not to say Africa and elsewhere … except perhaps Obama. Let people try someone honest … the problem here is duration. What happens to Al-Sisi if he remains in power too long ? That is the question. However, If the people impose a two-year mandate, that should take care of this issue … at least the people will love their leader which is not seen in many countries today…

    • Luna

      Great point. Also, the author of this piece obviously has no idea how politics and presidency work. The president could be a complete blithering idiot, but if he surrounds himself with economists, lawyers, investors, and people who have experience in different fields, his administration will function smoothly. I too would prefer that Sisi continue his work as Field Marshall, but not because I think he’d suck as a president. Because he’s too good at what he does right now, and because he won’t be nearly as powerful as he is now if he accepts the presidency.

    • https://www.facebook.com/joyceemaree MJ LN

      Author should delve deeper into the Egyptian psyche and the intricacies of Egyptian politics and institiutions. I am not saying the man will be a great president but if you look at the Egyptian military, it is an instituion unlike any in the world, They are a self sufficent unit that generate weaponry, food ( yes food) they have their own stores, have their own funds and have strategically developed many industries. And the military did not “sepose under his leadership” Mr. Morsy. Had you walked the streets of Cairo midyear, you would have known that the people were calling for resignation. You would have experienced the tolerance the military gave the government because the people were in the streets. Egypt is a country quite unique, no modelling from any other. The Egyptians will say who is good for them.

      • Anonymous

        That is what is wrong with Egypt’s military. It should not be involved in food production, it should not be using conscripts as free Labour. It should not be grabbing land from people and living like lords on other people’s hard work. I cannot believe Egyptians are so easily fooled over and over again.

    • Erowidus

      Jose Mujica of Uruguay.

    • swilts

      Everything can go wrong. Tell me what will happen if he fails and there is another huge revolution because the people are starving Will the military back him and start killing the people? Of course they will. This is a very very dangerous situation