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The return of Gamal Abdel Nasser?

May 23, 2014

As the presidential race draws closer, the comparison between both candidates is at its highest. But there is one comparison that strikes the most: the Nasser complex.

Supporters of both former Military Chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and self-proclaimed Nasserist politican Hamdeen Sabahi maintain a huge comparison of their beloved candidates to the late leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Nasser, Egypt’s second President and the President of the United Arab Republic (after the unification with Syria) was one of the Free Officers which overthrew the British-influenced Monarchy. He was known for his immense charisma, of which led to huge demonstrations after his ‘resignation’ post the Six-Day war, and he was an admirable leader known for his Pan-Arab and Socialist ideals.

Nasser called onto the Arabs to unite, and was known for his anti-imperialistic thoughts. During the Cold War, Nasser’s neutral position caused a lot of anger from the west, but was later confronted with assistance from the East. His leadership spread throughout the Arab world, succeeding in efforts to strengthen ties with Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and more. He died in 1970 through an alleged heart attack, although there remain many talks of a conspiracy on the topic.


The candidates

After the events that took place on the 30th of June, Sisi mania quickly swept Egypt. Sisi surfaced as the loving leader many had been longing for. His style of dialogue was one that was firm yet gentle. He appeared as a leader who cares deeply about the nation and its people.

And that’s exactly what we needed at the time; someone to show his compassion and love for this weary population after a year of “violent” tones. So the comparison to Nasser began, and Sisi-mania was an epidemic.

Meanwhile, Sabahi became famous since the 2012 Presidential Elections for his Nasser-like ideologies. A self-proclaimed Nasserist, his ideals favor more government control. Sabahi dreams of a country that is more self-dependent and one that provides more services to those in need. More importantly, his ideals long the return of the Arab identity.

Now we understand that this comparison in terms of Sisi is one that relates to the charismatic, firm, and loving military leader that seems to be our savior. Whilst, on the other hand, Sabahi is the man who has been struggling against corruption all his life, cares for the poor and who believes the government needs even more control.

Sisi saluting Nasser as a child
*Correction: This is not a photo of Sisi, as posted earlier

Decaying image

In recent days, the image of both men seems to be changing in the eyes of some. Sisi’s charming talk seems to have been overused, or at least used at the wrong time. Egyptians are now awaiting constructive plans, steps that would solve issues related to security, power, pollution, infrastructure, agriculture, poverty, unemployment, and more: solid steps that would finally bring change. And that seems to fade out of the Nasser image resembled in Sisi.

Moreover, Sabahi is the opposite. A constructive plan has been put forth that is of the liking of many, or at least they just admire the fact that he has a plan to begin with unlike his counterpart. However, he seems to lack in the charisma department, as numerous people question him simply for the way he talks and presents his ideas. Both candidates, after mediocre showing in interviews, seem to raise more questions than answer them. None of them though have lost any votes: both are smart and know their target audience. Sisi seems to be more cautious and Sabahi more out-spoken.

The race is still very well up for grabs. Sisi, the favorite, seems to raise a lot of questions but he knows he has a solid base of followers. Sabahi, the underdog, is trying to win over the people that are considering boycotting, as he signaled a comparison with previous elections when it ended between Ahmed Shafiq and Mohamed Morsi. At the end, whether you are a fan of Nasser or not, rest assured, as neither candidate even comes close.

Comments (13)

  1. michael says:

    Lets hope the winner will not repeat the errors of Nasser,
    Egypt need the west to survive, for import, export and service
    God bless the winner !!!!

    1. Minymina says:

      I disagree, Egypt should look to the east for support from Russia, Japan and South Korea. Future super powers like India and China also shouldn’t be forgotten.

    2. michael says:

      dear Minymina
      when I said repeat the errors of Nasser ,include nationalise investments, scare businessmen to invest in Egypt etc,
      I left Egypt in 1964 to Australia, my background is from Greek background in the early 60″ Australia was a productive country from car ,electrical appliance and all good, 20 years later dealing with the Asia countries where all these goods have invaded our shore poor quality and cheaper than our products, we close all our manufactories and we became a service country, we are lucky that we got a very rich natural resources to last us for 200 years and more (iron, uranium ,natural gas, etc that Asia need and we are surviving, Egypt unless it got investment to produce will not survive too long, Egypt today should look at long term and not short term vision, the west will need your products more than these counties in Asia

    3. Minymina says:

      Thats true, the west needs our products and resources. Asia however is a better ally. Look at how Russia and China treat their allies compared to the west. I’m not saying we should abandon the west but rather try and make allies in the east. Not only are countries such as Russia more open in terms of what type of weapons they can sell us (unlike the US) but they can also advance our nation with things such as nuclear power (which the US and EU don’t want to see). Egypt can also learn alot from India and latin american countries whose poverty rates have decreased year on year.

      Things have changed since your time. Russia is no longer the USSR and everything nowadays is made in China while designed in Japan or South Korea. The US only looks after their own interests and want to see nations such as Egypt not advance for their own sake. Egypt was prospers during the 50’s because of our relationship with Russia. It was Russia who saved us when England and France invaded, they were the ones who threatened the world with nuclear war (if western troops didn’t pull out of Egypt). They are more loyal allies, take a look at how they stand with Assad in Syria.

      I’m not anti western, I actually live in europe. As I stated before, I want Egypt to have a relationship with the west but I’m looking towards the future. Like you said, Egypt today should look at long term and not short term vision. Asian/South American countries are future superpowers and we should establish a relationship with them for the sake of Egypt’s future.

    4. michael says:

      good comments very well put,
      thank you